Superintendents Importance is Overlooked
School superintendents importance is overlooked as it is the catalyst for change in transformational and distributive leadership development within the district and schools. These leaders, especially superintendents, will make or break impactful school reform. For any level of organizational or building wide change to occur the district leadership must be involved. This involvement may vary depending on the scope and scale of not only the change sought but also on the size of the school system.
District leadership must establish the expectations, link to the district improvement plan, communicate with stakeholders and allocate resources accordingly. Resources allocation such as time, people and money will ensure success but also communicates a message to all stakeholders about the level of value the district leadership places on the task.
The Stanford Redesign Network published Distributive Leadership in District Reform: A Model for Taking Linked Learning to Scale (2010). They suggest district leadership conduct an initial environmental scan of the district leadership by asking and answering the following:
1. What role is the district leadership team playing in strategically developing the leadership capacity of others at district and school levels?
2. To what extent are site-based leadership teams, including teacher leaders, encouraged and provided sufficient autonomy to make important decisions?
3. What benefit or challenge might surface if the district were to shift to a more distributive leadership model?
A fourth question should be; What resource allocations of time, people and budget do we need to provide to ensure impact?
These seem like very common sense questions to ask at the beginning of any endeavor. District leadership is the catalyst for change when collaboration, vision and sound processes are understood and applied. In the current “room for no false start” environment for school superintendents having a strategic plan centered around data will put your school district on the path of systemic and sustainable continuous improvement. The superintendents importance is overlooked only if you let it.