We recently caught up with Michael Fullan and asked him his thoughts on positive school leadership, this recent Strategic Learning Initiatives study, and the potential to shift focus away from slash-and-burn school improvement strategies.
It was encouraging to see the results of AIR’s report on the 10 Chicago schools that underwent the focused instruction process. Without radical upheaval and with old-fashioned focus on the instructional core, along with external help, these schools improved significantly compared to other Chicago schools.
The AIR report confirms on a small scale what we have found on a very large scale in Ontario, with 4,900 schools. Namely, that with nonpunitive, focused, instructional intervention that develops specific data-informed teaching practices and builds the collective leadership capacity of principals and teachers, you can get greater results in shorter periods of time across more schools and with less grief. Moreover, it improves the whole system, not just a smattering of schools.
I spell out this strategy (and critique existing school improvement strategies) in more detail in All Systems Go. The value of focusing on collective capacity has also been confirmed in our up close work on Motion Leadership, in which we see school and system leaders doing very specific things to cause positive movement in remarkably short time periods.