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Leading to Reform: March 24

This week’s newsletter highlights leadership and Millenials, Larry Cuban’s thoughts on technology, teacher preparation in Milwaukee and a reminder about leadership and collaboration. We link as always to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform. Leading to Reform will be taking some time for Easter with the next issue coming out on our new website and blog in early April.

Is Leadership an Issue for Millenials?
Leadership has an image problem amongst Millennials and that signals trouble for today's executives. According to Lauren Rikleen, who has studied workplace demographics for Boston College's Center for Work and Family there won't be enough members of the Gen X population to fill anticipated leadership roles in the next decade.

Yet, Millennials have ambition. According to research in Bentley University's white paper, 65 percent said that being "successful in a high-paying career or profession" was either extremely or very important. The drive is there for this generation, so why the reluctance to take on a larger leadership role?

Smart Leaders and the Power of Collaboration
Schools are trying to meet the new imperative. Learning and Development (L&D) is much more important with accountability built into every L&D event. The goal is to integrate learning into a Schools ’s culture and processes. There are also training sessions, workshops, conferences, and retreats, but the most successful strategies are those that make learning a continuous process, hardwired into a schools’ metabolism.

For school leaders this is both a daunting challenge and an exciting opportunity to engage and retain top talent. You have to keep your eye on the horizon, your ear to the ground and your nose in the wind. Your school’s needs are ever changing, and you must stay one step ahead while dealing with many informal leaders in the school who are trying to hold on to what they have been doing.

Most schools are still stuck in developing teachers and leaders without accountability, never closing the loop between the training and the results.

End the Distractions; Focus on Kid’s Learning
Three deans of education in the Milwaukee metro area are committed to teacher preparation, both in our college-based programs and in their partnerships with Teach For America. They are rightly proud of well-developed programs at undergraduate and graduate levels but also proud of contributions to the work of the TFA corps members in area schools, who also benefit from our coursework and coaching.

They recently reflected on Jeanne F. Williams' thoughtful op-ed in Friday's Journal Sentinel, which raised the question: Will trying to say which route of teacher preparation is better move us toward improved learning outcomes for Milwaukee's children?

The real issue is how all of us - not just teacher preparation programs, but the entire metropolitan area - can work toward a common goal where every school is high performing, supporting all children as they build knowledge, skill, character and capacity. Truly, it "takes a village."

Preparing teachers could not do so without key partnerships with K-12 public, choice and charter schools in and their leaders who work with our students in field experiences, internships and beginning teacher roles. In turn, those schools rely on the support of the community: parents, neighbors, and local business and faith communities, along with city, county and state governments. That circle is also affected by national conversations and policies, as well as the economy and, ultimately, international influences.

As the critique goes, education is unfortunately one enterprise where the stakeholders circle the wagons and shoot at each other. So, how do we get beyond the distracting argument of whether traditional teacher education or TFA is best; of pitting choice, charter and public schools against one another; or of comparing this special program to that one? Until we get past these distractions, we won't be able to put all of our efforts into what matters most: the learning of all our children.

Rather than argue, what if all stakeholders started down the road to improvement by collaborating?

Magical Thinking About Technology in Education
Is technology is going to save public education? Too many school districts are chasing the elusive target of technology. I know I did for years and realize the poor return on investment – where the money spent on more hardware could be used differently and with more impact for kids.

Here’s a cautionary post from Larry Cuban, a high school social studies teacher for 14 years, a district superintendent (seven years in Arlington, Va.), and professor emeritus of education at Stanford University, where he has taught for more than 20 years. His latest book is “As Good As It Gets: What School Reform Brought to Austin.” This appeared on his
School Reform and Classroom Practice blog.

Time Management Habits to Master
Time management is about taking charge of oneself. It is about accepting responsibility for our lives and what we choose to do with our time.
Here are 12 time management habits for the spring. Tailor these as you like, but whatever you do, work on one each week using Benjamin Franklin’s method:
  1. Strive to be authentic
  2. Favor trusting relationships
  3. Maintain a lifestyle that gives you maximum energy
  4. Set a very few priorities and stick to them
  5. Turn down things that are not your priorities
  6. Get the rest of these great time management tips at Forbes...

Articles for the Week:

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” --John Wooden

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