Change In Leadership Conference

New leadership is brimming with ideas and goals (I am no different) but often fail to identify the desires, needs, and parameters of the very people their ideas will affect.

I owe a big thank you to Kevin Riley for sharing his idea for new leaders to arrange a Change In Leadership Conference prior to beginning their new roles. Kevin’s comments were first noticed on this Leader Talk post back in July. I was so impressed with his suggestion, I contacted him via email, called him from my office a few days later, and then forged ahead with a plan to arrange for my own Change In Leadership Conference. (Note: Due to time constraints and other pressures, I had to revamp Kevin’s tried and true plan that he left on the Leader Talk post. Regardless, it worked!)

The premise of my conference was to establish the tone and culture of collaboration while also providing me with clear and concise information about my faculty’s values, wants, and concerns. This aim was met by asking the partcipants to answer four very crucial and essential questions.
  1. What are we good at doing?
  2. What is non-negotiable, regardless of who is in leadership?
  3. What can we improve upon?
  4. What advice do you have for the new principal?
In late July I contacted and met with Dr. Louis Centolanza, one of my most trusted advisors and a mentor. He agreed to facilitate the conference and work with the faculty I invited to participate. The decision to select faculty members for participation was not easy. I selected members from each department and chose faculty members who represented the various levels of experience. 25 faculty members were invited, and 17 were able to attend.

You should know that one of the components of a Change In Leadership Conference is that the new principal be divorced from the proceedings (short of arranging the details). I was not part of the three-hour conference until the very end; I was invited into the room after all had been discussed and documented. This is done to prevent the faculty from feeling intimidated and allows for a free-flow of ideas and discussion.

In the end, I was very pleased to hear the ideas, desires, and needs of the faculty. My promise to them was that I would document their answers to the questions, share it with the entire faculty, and use these answers to guide us (both faculty and administration) as we collectively and passionately pursue the mission, our vision, and our goals.
I recommend that all new principals and leaders use this approach when entering a new building or assuming a new role in a system. This type of activity would also apply to Supervisors; instead if discussing building issues, discuss departmental issues. In fact, the model of the Change In Leadership Conference will be applied to my Professional Councils within my building.

Author: Michael Parent, Ed.D

Father, husband, school administrator in NJ. "Education cures poverty".

One thought on “Change In Leadership Conference”

  1. I stumbled upon your fabulous blog as I was researching UBD and the reflective process. As a former principal in New Jersey schools, and a new International Baccalaurate Middle Years Program Coordinator in a district in beautiful Napa Valley that has begun full IB implementation, I have hit some brick walls (which is an understatement!).

    From your readings and thoughtful musings about working with people, I agree that it is finding maybe that one strength that no one else notices and allowing the teacher to capitalize on that strength to ramp up his or her teaching. Fear is such a challenge to overcome – especially with individuals who believe that being open minded or flexibile to new learnings will uncover a lack of knowledge within them. Teachers were given the mandate to create to units of study and IB has taken UBD and created their own model – one that is confusing, to say the least. However, I am finding teachers so stuck on the template they are unable to move to the teaching and learning and evidence of the learning. We have much work to do and I am looking forward to trying to answer the teachers searching questions while continuing to ask more questions about our practice.

    I attended a workshop recently and I found this quote to be one that resonates with me right now, especially having moved cross country from New York to California: Why do systems and people both resist and embrace change? It is a great conversation starter, don't you agree?
    I am interested in following your blog or to be able to engage in thoughtful discussion as I attempt to shift teachers' thinking toward a different way of knowing. I would welcome any guidance. Alexis, Napa, CA.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s