What does your administration leadership team actually DO? That is not a rhetorical question. What are the actual tasks of the team that gathers around the conference room table every week or month for an hour or two? Are these meetings just an aggregation of pieces, or is there something that is greater than the sum of the parts that arises, that is critical to the functioning of your school or district?
This was the question that drove a conversation with Rick Kunc, Deputy Head at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton, Ontario this morning. I have been working with HSC on building the capacity of an incredible all-school team of academic coach/change agents that have acquired the label The A Team. The goal of the A Team is to gather, build, and implement an evolving academic North Star for the school. And none of the traditional group of school leaders, the principals and office bosses, are on the A Team. So what is the role of what we traditionally call the Admin Leadership team?
I kicked myself for not having this conversation clear in my head 6 months ago; I would have written one more chapter in THRIVE, but, thanks to Rick, here is an important two-part addendum and a new figure to help.
First, remember that schools operate on three different levels, and schools that work and innovate well have great alignment and coherence amongst the three: vision, systems, and the daily learning experience:
The big step that HSC has taken is to actually create a powerful A Team that will help define the academic vision of the school, and then to “own” the alignment between the systems level and the ground floor. The role of the A Team, essentially, is to ensure that teachers have the resources and skills they need to implement a system of learning that will achieve the school’s vision.
That leaves the gap between the top two levels. Who owns that gap? It has to be the admin leadership team. One critical role of this team is that of cross-silo communication. That has likely been one of, if not the largest, role of the admin leadership team at your school or district, and it is REALLY important. But there is this other, equally critical role of strategic alignment. This group has to own the all-school decisions that are beyond the reach of any one division or department. Rick had in his head a Venn diagram that looks something like this:
Tomorrow I will dive more deeply into what most admin leadership teams at school traditionally do, and how they might shift to this much more strategic role.