When the truck is stuck…

Changing the culture of a school or district is hard to do.  Pushing a half-ton truck out of a snow bank is hard too.

Teachers can work 24/7 behind closed doors to make a difference for the kids in their class but have little or no effect on school culture.  One person straining to free a stuck truck can pull every muscle in their body only to watch the tires spin.

I think we all know what happens to the truck when enough bodies lean into it.

This is the difference between “teachers working hard” and “teachers working hard together.”  The same goes for admin, trustees, parents…

About Larry Espe

Superintendent of Schools
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4 Responses to When the truck is stuck…

  1. One other solution (leadership trap?) is that some people call for a tow truck expecting that someone else can be hired to pull them out of the snow. The may be especially true if you have not developed the relational networks to call upon to help with the pushing or, the community is fractured and doesn’t have the habits of helping.

    It’s snowing in New England so maybe I can test the theory.

    Bruce Wellman

  2. lespe says:

    The “relational networks” you mention are such a sweet thing. We have some fine examples in the district. By the way… I think that it’s time we had you back to help us push.
    I hope the weather improves for you!

  3. G. Thielmann says:

    Let’s assume that various folks are working together to improve a dysfunctional school or district culture, trying to work together. What should teachers (or principals, parents, students) do in the mean time with the organizational and learning projects that are held up by the dysfunction? What if their best ideas can’t wait for the culture to improve or for system change to provide them with the contexts for success. They’ve been involved, they work for change, tried to model effective practice, an yet years go by without seeming to make a difference. Aside from shutting down, closing off, these people and their ideas tend to go underground and often go unnoticed or even get blocked. How can we open some side-doors to let the creativity (and productivity) flourish even if the cultural milieu is still “stuck” for years to come?

  4. Larry Espe says:

    I wish I had the full answer to your question. I think I could sell it.
    In the meantime, I know that right now the educators at the ministry have gone on record and said that they are no longer “giving permission” for us to innovate, they are now “expecting” us to innovate. That being said, I know that we are still hung up with some of the old structures and paradigms, and basically riding two horses.
    My suggestion though would be to find at least one like minded colleague and start planning something interdisciplinary together. I’m not talking about just departmental collaboration… I’m talking about planning together around pedagogy, creativity, projects and getting rid of things like bells and text books… at least in your own “learning areas” (previously referred to as classrooms). Focus on process and not content, be ready for ambiguity, and meet for at least a little while every day.
    I hope you get a chance to visit our Energetic Learning Campus. The teachers there are doing just that.

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