Monday, September 17, 2007

Reflections of Week 1 Questions

Question 1: I have been a superintendent in another state prior to becoming superintendent in Benjamin. My previous experience has been in districts of about 15,000 students. I immediately became excited about working in a small district of nearly 1,000 students to be able to establish and nuture direct relationships with students and staff. So far I have found this to be very rewarding to build relationships as well as lead the district to higher levels of excellence (the district's results are already excellent). With smaller number of administrators, it is even more imperative to identify and grow the talents of the staff.

Question 2: To make a difference for students that we are preparing for the "Knowledge Worker Age", we must teach students to learn how to learn. The need to process knowledge rather than simply know it is critical and should be our mission.

Question 3: The most important lesson that I have learned in this chapter is to view persons from the lens of the whole-person paradigm. Too frequently, I have not focused on the spirit and heart perspectives. The whole-person paradigm enables me to discover and grow talents in a more holistic way. The orgnization must have supports integrated into the system so the talents can florish intrinsically as opposed to extrinsically. The supports must target how staff are treated and opportunities for them to apply all four parts of their nature. Until all parts of their nature are tapped, their growth is limited. We must enable them to grow to thier maximum potential...who knows what that could be!

Monday, August 27, 2007

I'm in!

I have now signed on to be a member!

Monday, August 13, 2007

IASA Book Study on The 8th Habit

What Will My Legacy Be?

As you start in your first superintendency you probably have not thought about the legacy you will leave within this school district. Will people remember a passed or failed referendum? How about a state championship earned by an athletic team or a national show choir championship? What about a good fund balance for the school district? Will they remember high student test scores, low student test scores, student suspensions or expulsions, development of new reading or math curriculum, and on and on…? What will your legacy be?

As a recently retired superintendent with 18 years experience in the superintendent’s seat, it is a series of thoughts I had in my last few months. When I look back at my career, I hope people in my school districts remember the people I recommended for employment who are still actively engaged in improving their school district and looking after their children. In my opinion, the best legacy you can leave is a strong team of individuals who can carry on the work of improving the schools.

Not only do you need to recommend the correct people for employment, you need to maximize their talents within your organization. Stephen R. Covey spent his working life studying how people work best. From this, he has written books, developed course work and shared his knowledge to various groups of people. One of the most powerful statements I recall is from Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Habit 5 is “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” What does this mean to you?

Covey teaches that when negotiating with someone, both sides should follow this simple format. After first person states their feelings or position, the second person cannot state their feelings or position until they restate (with the approval of the first person) the first person’s feelings or position to their satisfaction. Only after receiving permission from the first person can the second person begin. This has resulted in a type of third generation agreement that tends to be better than either side could do alone. This is very powerful.

I have recently completed reading Stephen R. Covey's books The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit, as well as Stephen M. R. Covey's book, The Speed of Trust. These books have inspired me to look very closely at my own leadership style and how I can improve as a leader, a husband, a father and a grandfather.

If you would like to learn more about Covey and his leadership principles, please elect to participate in our blog book study on Covey’s book, The 8th Habit. Join us in a book study blog that we are starting at IASA that we believe will help you grow individually and become a better administrator. You may access this book study blog at

According to Wikipedia, "A blog is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, which means to maintain or add content to a blog. Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food, politics, or local news while some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.”

If you want to participate in this book study you will need to email me with your request to be a member of this book study blog. You can either respond to me via this email or prepare a new email and send it to When I receive your request to belong I will add your email address to the invited blog list and you will be ready to participate. You can log the hours you spend reading this book and blogging to this site as part of the 100 professional development hours you need to accrue over a five year period.

There are 15 chapters in The 8th Habit and our goal will be to read and discuss three chapters per week so that we can finish in five weeks. While you are reading the book, I recommend that you also visit to watch the videos that are mentioned at various spots in the book. If you purchase the hard copy of the book a DVD of videos is included. The videos do a very good job of bringing the tenets of the chapters to life. I will post several thoughts and/or questions at the beginning of each week for participants to respond to.

Week 1 Questions

1. Covey points out in Chapter 1 that each of us needs to engage in work that taps our talents, fuels our passion, is needed in the world, and prompts you to actually do the work. How does earning a position as a school superintendent tap your talent? How does it fuel your passion? How are you needed in your new job as a school superintendent? Why did you seek this position as a school superintendent?

2. Last fall I read The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. This book really stretched my thoughts of the changing workplace that our students are facing. We viewed the video “Shift Happens” at the New Superintendents’ Conference and that message probably stretched your view of the world today. Do you believe, as does Covey, that eventually the “Knowledge Worker Age” will bring about a downsizing of up to 90 percent of the “Industrial Age workforce?” If you do agree, what should we do as leaders to make a difference in education?

3. Covey states that we need to work on the paradigm if we want to make significant, quantum improvement in our organization. The first paradigm he writes about is the whole-person paradigm. He claims that most employees do not even come close to tapping their talents when they are doing their work. What lessons do you learn in this chapter that could help you unleash the talents in your school district?