Wednesday, May 6, 2009

An up and down day . . .

Today was for me, one of ups and downs. Up, because with the Board taking action last night on the budget adjustments we have put behind us one of the most difficult issues I have faced in a leadership role. Up, because it was a Teacher Leadership learning day, always an energizing and rewarding experience. Up, because I had an opportunity to observe leadership teams engaging in skillful discussions to identify the focus of their change efforts. In the case of one building, it includes planning changes that will force us to examine long-established and unwritten rules for resource allocation. They are pushing the envelope because they are not pleased with math achievement levels in their building. I look forward to being a part of the process that will determine whether they are given the autonomy to make these changes.

With all of these ups what could cause me to feel down? Well, it is the last leadership learning day of the year, always a bittersweet day. More importantly, however, it is the last leadership day of the foreseeable future because of the adjustments that we made to the Teaching and Learning budget. This was for me, the first of what will be many changes to the work that I do because of the significant changes to this budget.

The loss of these leadership learning days will have an impact on our efforts to distribute leadership and to support leadership work at the building and district level. It will not be evident for many in our system, but those in a leadership role with facilitation responsibilities will experience the loss of support. It will also be evident in situations where leadership roles will be filled by those with no experience in learning and acquiring the communication skill set that has become the foundation of our work.

Please know that I am not questioning the decision to make this adjustment to the 2009-10 budget. Given the context we found ourselves in, I don’t believe that we could have made a different decision without significant loss of credibility and trust. We made the decision that this was more important in this process than the loss of capacity to purchase materials and to support change and adult learning that results from the adjustments. We need to now adapt to a new environment and to find creative ways to continue our journey while we wait for that time when the state makes significant changes to public school funding that allows us to bring back some of what we have suspended in this important part of our school system.

Though I don't question the need for the decision, I am saddened by the need to make it and by the loss of this leadership learning opportunity that I believe has had a significant positive influence on our professional learning community journey.

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