School Org Structure That Actually Reflects A New Learning Vision?

What if you could organize your school governance structure to align with forward-leaning principles of learning?  What if you had a blank slate, with no or few legacy assumptions or restrictions?  What would that look like?  How would we “do” school differently?

photoThat is the opportunity and challenge we have at Design 39 Campus in Poway Unified School District, opening next year.  We have been challenged by the superintendent to create a school where we “do” school differently, and yesterday I worked with the team to begin designing the governance structure.  I asked us to consider three questions:

  • What are the major characteristics of organization, decision-making, and authority we want? How should the school act and evolve over time in terms of organizational structure?
  • What are the absolutely immovable elements dictated by law or the district?
  • What are all the programs and services the school offers that need to get done?

We had a rapid brainstorm; these are experienced school leaders who know what they want to do and what needs doing at a large public school. We then turned to the functions of leadership and how to tie those functions to individuals and groups in ways that will govern and operate effectively.  My thinking is influenced by the revolutionary leadership structure of the Denver Green School where they seem to have created a remarkable balance of distributed authority and effective responsibility, which is what Design 39 Campus is looking for.

Big takeaway: I grabbed three more pictures like the one above in this post; they contain all the elements this team could think of that would drive a school organizational structure.  Now we have those in our mind and dataset!  When we create the actual organizational structure it won’t fit onto a nice two-dimensional diagram; effective, connected, distributed, networked leading communities don’t.  But we will come up with an organizational structure that reflects the incredibly forward-leaning vision of the school…and that is “doing” school differently!  And I think we coined a new term for the school principal or head: “lead leader”!

Stay tuned.

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