Category Archives: Governance

Development of strong governance strategies

Change for Change’s Sake. Not

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” It’s in the pool or at the lake. It’s sleeping in and slowing down. For principals, teachers, and board members, it’s reflecting back and planning forward: not so easy, but slower-paced than during the school year. It’s soooo good to put balance sheets, lesson plans, and school schedules on the shelf for a few weeks. Family time is a bigger chunk of the summertime than during the “schooling” seasons.

For school leaders and boards, summer is a good time to step back to notice changes in schooling over the past decade, most of which occur in both government and religious schools. Gone is the day (except for small schools in isolated areas) of all students sitting at desks going through the same curriculum with all parents satisfied because “The school knows best.”
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Your Vision for the Future

My last post talked about developing strategic alignment within your organization. The first step in accomplishing this is to develop a clear, agreed-upon vision and strategy. The essential task of any leader is to discuss and determine with your boards and with your staff what the “main thing” is for your school.

I often find that there is some confusion between mission and vision. For the purpose of this series of articles, vision is aspirational. It should be a short statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization’s or program’s work.
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What’s Your Status on Status?

At the outset, I want to acknowledge that the topic of status is challenging to think about. I think that is the case because it is often a hard reality to identify and impossible to quantify. I’m talking about the connection between a person’s status and the power they wield due to that status. And by status I am referring to one’s standing in a community
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Whajagit?

Whajagit? This is the title of a book about giving grades to students. The writer noted that kids, when tests are handed back, use this question with fellow students, “Hey, Nate, whajagit?” It’s still a practice in school, and at home, where parents ask at major marking times, “Whajagit?” The students who ask it the most are the ones who almost always get good grades. They ask it of students with whom they compete. An A feels even better if the respondent says, “A-.”
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Power and Culture

My neighbors moved in across the street just under a year ago. There is an older couple that appear to be grandparents, a younger couple with two small girls, and I think one other adult. The older gentleman’s name is Milkiet; he speaks very little English, is very gregarious and friendly, and is a pretty solid volleyball player, although our family has noticed that the techniques he learned playing in India are very different from the ones we learned.

It strikes me as funny that his volleyball techniques stand out as a difference when he also speaks a different language, dresses differently (including his turban), eats different food, and worships differently.
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Acting on Trust in Christian Schools

A sermon illustration from 40 years ago has stuck with me. The pastor had us imagine a father hearing from his son, “Dad, I’m really grateful for all the stuff you give to me. We go on fine trips. You protect me…but sometimes, Dad, I don’t quite trust you.” The pastor claimed that would devastate the father. Then came the point: “Our Father must feel that way when we say, in effect, ‘Father, I like all your good gifts, but….’”
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Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

I spent 25 years of my life in the Air Force, flying, teaching, planning, and later commanding heavy bomber units. The experiences and stories I have from those days are often the source of some pretty hysterical leadership lessons. I want to share with you one event.
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Theology, Psychology, and Power

Last month we talked about one of the “Big Six” factors that influence how power plays out in our schools. I shared some reflections on how gender impacts access to positions of power and how power impacts gender.

In this entry, I’d like to look at the “theological” factors that impact the power dynamics we work within. I put quotation marks around the word “theological” because I think there are times when this word is misused, or at least used without reflection on whether it is the most accurate word.
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What’s in a Name?

If you are a board member, what title do you use for your main leader? Choose from the following names, each used by CSI schools: administrator, principal, head-of-school, superintendent, president, headmaster.

If you are the staff leader (I’ve never heard that as a title), how recent is the title you now have? Did you suggest to the board the title you prefer? For both boards and leaders, the current name may have little or no intentional meaning: as long as the person answers to the board, all those alternatives may seem the same. It’s akin to Juliet telling Romeo that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Who cares about the name? Continue reading

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Called to Community

CSI just finished its annual installment of the Principal Development Institute (PDI) in Orlando, Florida. In addition to the joy of getting away from Michigan in February, this event, perhaps more than any other CSI event, highlights for me the importance of serving together in a community of likeminded schools.
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