Opinion Blog

Peter DeWitt's

Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Superintendents: Take the Flipped Leadership Challenge!

By Peter DeWitt — August 19, 2014 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

District leaders...this is for you. It’s also for building leaders, teachers or parents who would like to see their district leaders provide more information before meetings instead of after. Feeling brave?...Send it to your superintendent.

A couple of years ago I wrote how flipped learning could be a really engaging way to maximize learning in the classroom. And then...Bill Ferriter challenged school principals to flip their faculty meetings. It was a challenge I took, and it helped us get more out of our faculty meetings.

There are those of us in leadership positions, who took the flipped learning idea and used it at the leadership level. We flipped our faculty meetings, curriculum meetings, and parent communication. It was one way to help us brand our school and get ahead of the message, and to maximize our precious little time together.

In a time when schools are constantly fighting the stigma of being trapped in years long ago, teachers are trying to use a variety of methods to engage students. Central office administration however, have not really changed how they engage their stakeholders.

Let’s take administration meetings for example. Throw in a table with donuts and coffee, slap an agenda on a piece of paper, and set aside 3 or 4 hours to get through the list, and you have yourself an administration meeting.

Perhaps it’s time to upgrade the admin meeting? Perhaps it’s time to upgrade the way you communicate with your stakeholders?

Flipping at the District Level...

Superintendents are seen as the political leaders of their town or county, the face of the school district, and some pride themselves on being instructional leaders, which means they are just as responsible for engaging their school leaders as teachers are for engaging their students. And there is no better time to do it than now.

Mission - How often do you discuss the district mission? Sure, it’s on every wall around each building in the district, but do you really focus on it? Do you set aside time to talk about student engagement?

Goals - Are you talking about the goals you have set as an admin team? How are you progressing? Do you even remember what the goals are? Or is the time together spent on venting and things that ultimately don’t help you further your goals?

Mandates - New ones come down from the state at breakneck speed. How often do you dissect them and see how they will work in your system?

Learning - There is so much great learning going on in schools...and more importantly...in your school? How often do you talk about that? Do you talk about the great things teachers and students are doing....or do you always focus on what they aren’t doing?

School Community - Do you send home a pretty pamphlet every year? Do you think it is the building leader’s job to engage parents because your job is to engage parents during board meetings that are hardly attended. How do you get that information out to parents? How do you show transparency at the same time you highlight all of the good things about your district? Do you try new ways to engage...or just do the same thing and get the same results?

Flip It

All of these discussions can be enhanced through flipping your leadership. Sending out engaging information before a meeting to maximize the conversation is important. Actually, it’s more than important...it is vital. There are school leaders in your district who are drowning under the weight of mandates and accountability. Inspire them to see the positive side of things in your district.

District leaders need to practice what they preach. If they want teachers to find new ways to engage students, they must find new ways to engage their own leaders and the school community. They need to maximize the precious time they have with their staff. Time is fixed, but what we do with it doesn’t have to be.

Flip some admin meetings and parent communication. Upload the parent communication to Facebook and your website. There is just no excuse for not communicating with stakeholders in a variety of ways, because the tools are right at your feet.

In the End

There are times when I get tired of the word “flip.” It almost sounds like a gimmick but it is not. It is a positive way to get a message out before any meeting in order to provide important information that can be discussed at a much deeper level during the meeting.

Imagine how well attended a board meeting may be, if district leaders provide information through the flipped method before, so stakeholders can come and learn more about it? Imagine how much parents may appreciate that their school district goes the extra mile to communicate with stakeholders?

Some parents, teachers and building leaders will never watch it, and they may walk around saying that it’s extra work to view it before the meeting time. That’s a sad and negative way to look at it. Flipping is meant to provide important information that stakeholders should want to know before a meeting so they get more out of the meeting.

We always look to teachers to change the way they approach instruction. We even put the onus on school principals to lead the way and be the role model. But superintendents should strive to be role models as well, and they have a whole community that they could be engaging that include teachers, students, building leaders and parents.

Take the challenge...flip something.

Connect with Peter on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP