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Leading to Reform: March 3

Leading to Reform’s back office back from his break from the midwestern winter. A regular blog and web site – coming soon. This week’s newsletter highlights things successful leaders do on weekends, revising the SAT to catch up with the ACT, civic mission of schools, shifting from management to leadership. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform. Most now forwarded by readers

14 Things the Most Successful Leaders Do on Weekends
Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  Successful leaders know that weekends are actually the secret weapon in professional success. You need to hit Monday ready to go. To do that, you need weekends that rejuvenate you, rather than exhaust or disappoint you. Cross-training makes you a better athlete, and likewise, exercise, volunteer work, spiritual activities, and hands-on parenting and relationship tending make you a better leader than if you just worked all the time.”

Executive coach Dale Kurow, M.S., says successful people usually spend their weekends participating in a “combination of family activities with their kids and spouse, errands, and creative activities to exercise the right side of their brain.”

Penelope Trunk, a career coach and author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, adds: “A highly successful person is very focused on what they want to be doing. The weekend and the week look very similar: They are focused on creating the life they want.”

What exactly are they doing on weekends?

  1. Make time for family and friends
  2. Exercise
  3. Pursue a passion
  4. Disconnect
  5. Plan
  6. Socialize
  7. To read numbers 7 to 14, please click here...

SAT Gets a Makeover
The SAT, the most widely used college entrance exam for generations of students, is getting a makeover. The College Board will redesign the test to more sharply focus on the “core set of knowledge and skills” that high school graduates need to succeed in college. The overhaul comes as the SAT is starting to lose market share to a rival standardized exam, the ACT. Historically, high school students in the West and the South have taken the ACT, while those on the East and West coasts have tended to take the SAT.

More than 1.66 million students in the class of 2012 took the SAT, making it the largest class of SAT takers in history. And the pool of test takers has become increasingly diverse, with rising numbers of low-income, African American and Hispanic students taking the exam.

But in 2011, the number of students who took the ACT surpassed the SAT for the first time. The SAT can be improved. Before joining the board, he helped write the Common Core standards in English for kindergarten through grade 12 that have been adopted by 46 states and the District. The new standards will be rolled out by 2014.

Shifting From Management to Leadership
Our job as leaders is to transform complexity and ambiguity into something that creates enduring value. Perhaps the most valuable innovation we can make is the one that is most accessible to us. We can pause…step back… to discern through the “information smog” what is important and to gain deeper awareness and synthesis of information. As leaders, too often we step forward with action to deal with complexity without first stepping back for the clarity we need. Our impulse to speed up and take action is driven by our intention to achieve, but our go-to approach—action and transaction—is often futile when dealing with increasing chaos and complexity. Unknowingly, our dedication to speed and action can be counterproductive. As the VUCA forces (Volatility, Unpredictability, Complexity, Ambiguity) intensify, we have to consider learning how to step back to get clear so we can step forward with optimal contribution.

Learning to bring clarity to complexity is an essential value-creating competency for leaders today.

The Challenge of Civic Education in a Segregated Society
Engaging in democratic discourse requires conversing with people who take different perspectives on issues or who have different backgrounds and life circumstances. Effective civic learning environments encourage students to encounter people with different ideas and beliefs (Kahne, Middaugh, Lee, & Feezell, 2012).

One of the greatest threats to civic education in the United States today is demographic: Our schools and neighborhoods are becoming increasingly resegregated by both race and class. The harms from these trends are raising alarms from across the political spectrum. (See, for example, Murray, 2012; and Orfield, Kucsera, & Siegel-Hawley, 2012). How can students learn to engage in civil discourse with peers holding diverse perspectives when schools are so demographically divided? One answer involves creating online spaces where diverse students can convene and learn together.

Another is making sure civics is part of classes across every school. Too often educators and especially board members are fast to avoid the conversations students need to have with people with different ideas and beliefs.

In too many schools, opportunities to collaborate with other schools remain as add-ons that are restricted to students in a few elective classes. This pattern is a shame because the work done in these online spaces is vital to the civic mission of schools.

What is your school doing with the civic mission of schools? Do the school leaders paying attention?

Articles for the Week:

”We haven’t been treating people very nice lately.” --Kole Knupple

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