You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction.   Jim Rohn

From Dr. Linda Henke, Santa Fe Center for Transformational School Leadership

I hope all of you have had an opportunity to relax and reflect a bit following the intense immersion experience of the Leadership Institute.  I wanted you to know how impressed I am with your passion and persistence.  You showed up for our learning in every way every day, and I was proud to be a part of the work you all did to propel your schools and your district forward.

Below I have posted a brief video clip from a longer address given by Linda Darling-Hammond (pictured above), a well-known educational writer, professor, and advocate for change in our schools.  In this section of the video Darling-Hammond argues against Theory X, which is a business theory based on the idea that people are motivated primarily by incentives, the good old carrots and sticks. She reinforces that the bureaucratic model that emerges when schools embrace Theory X results in the assembly line that I discussed in my keynote with you last week. In the bureaucratic model, expertise resides at the top of the organization; and we become obsessed with doing things “the right way.”  Compliance serves as the driving force in schools that adopt this model and leaders focus on motivating their followers. Power to change resides at the top of the hierarchy.

The professional approach that Darling-Hammond advocates for, based on what organizational literature calls Theory Y, begins with a much different premise—the idea that all humans want to learn and to develop skillfulness.  In schools embracing this theory, we find a commitment to expertise in the classroom—to developing teachers’ scholarship about learning, child development, and rich content knowledge.  Here the emphasis is on “doing the right thing,” on creating a thriving learning community embracing all adults and children in the school. Power for deep change under Theory Y resides closest to children, in the classrooms.

Adherence to one or the other of these theories creates very different schools for children.  Which best describes your theory of leadership?  Where does power to change exist in your school? Worth thinking about as you prepare for the coming school year.