Innovating While Stabilizing Today’s Educational Environment

Authors: Co-written by CEN Chief of Staff Dr. Rachael McClain and Chat.OpenAI

If you have been engaging in the virtual learning series hosted by CEN over the past few months featuring Dr. Bill Daggett, you should have heard two common themes:

  1. GPT3 (and 4, 5….) will result in a tremendous shift in technology’s impact on education and life in general.
  2. Savvy district leaders must strike a balance between stabilizing the education system and innovating processes to address the needs of our students, communities, and the US…not an easy task.

What does Chat.OpenAI (GPT3) say when asked about this challenge?

According to Assistant (2023), stabilizing an organization while also innovating to address internal and external changes can be a challenging task for a leader. Here are some steps that a leader can take to effectively navigate this situation:

  • Assess the current situation: It’s important to understand the current state of the organization and identify any areas that need to be stabilized. This might involve gathering data, conducting interviews, or seeking input from employees.
  • Develop a plan: Based on the assessment, the leader should develop a plan to address the issues that need to be stabilized. This plan should include specific goals, tasks, and deadlines.
  • Communicate the plan: Once the plan is developed, it’s important to clearly communicate it to the rest of the organization. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
  • Focus on innovation: While stabilizing the organization, it’s important not to lose sight of the need to innovate. This might involve identifying new opportunities, testing new ideas, or implementing new technologies.
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement: Encourage a culture of continuous improvement within the organization. This helps to ensure that the organization is always looking for ways to improve and adapt to changing circumstances.
  • Review and revise the plan as needed: As the organization continues to evolve, it may be necessary to review and revise the plan to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.

By following these steps, a leader can effectively stabilize the organization while also fostering innovation and continuous improvement.

For districts engaging in the P-20 System Redesign Work, leaders (superintendents, boards, district and campus administrators) must assess their current situation:  Are you satisfied with what is happening to your students when they graduate?   If your least successful student defined the district’s success rate, is that a standard with which you are happy?  What areas of your current operation must be stabilized?  Staffing?  Academics?  In the business world, this is called a SWOT analysis that focuses on internal strengths and weaknesses and external threats and opportunities.  Based on a SWOT analysis, districts should develop a plan to address areas within their control or mitigate impacts from areas outside of their control.  Annually, CEN works with districts to develop a project plan designed to focus on innovation and stabilization efforts in pursuit of a redesign to a P-20 System.  As the plan is developed and is being implemented, intentional two-way communication is essential.  Communication is as important as other on-going school systems including attendance, grading, and sport schedules!  By focusing on innovation (in the planning, communicating, and implementing of the plan), the opportunities and threats outside of the organization can be strategically (and proactively) addressed rather resulting in a reaction that might not lead to the best outcomes.  A culture of continuous improvement in a P-20 System Redesign comes in the work that is sometimes easily overlooked in importance.   Advisory committees, instructional rounds, age-appropriate research, leadership professional development and culture surveys are examples of important activities leading towards continuous improvement.

A final thought which Chat.OpenAI did not mention…this type of stabilizing and innovating change takes time.  The Rural Redesign Process is a marathon and not a quick sprint.   The long-term nature of the redesign when implemented effectively leads to systemic change. Boards, superintendents, district and campus administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders must keep their focus on the intended and desired outcomes in order to truly do what is best for all students.

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