All school leaders must hold nearly daily critical conversations with those they supervise. This is an expectation of educational leadership and such conversations are essential if educational organizations are to move forward. In the United States, most school superintendents are employed by elected lay boards of education and must subsequently report to those boards. This structure may result in making those critical conversations more difficult to conduct.
Many superintendents today are employed by school boards with the expectation of bringing about dramatic change in school districts by building cohesive educational teams. Conversely, employees in organizations are often most comfortable with the status quo. A key question is how superintendents can hold critical conversations, bring about second order change in their districts, and not have mutiny.
This paper addresses the issue of how to hold critical conversations and reduce resistance in the context of superintendent preparation programs. All 867 public school superintendents in Illinois were invited to complete an online survey regarding administrative practices and needs and 43% responded. A common response was the need for superintendents to have stronger skills in building and working with teams. The strong implication of this response was that this element needs to be strengthened and reinforced in leadership preparation programs. The authors of this paper will engage the audience in a discussion of strategies for integrating such skills into superintendent preparation programs, thus enabling prospective and current superintendents to become the "best loving critics" of those they supervise while maintaining peace and harmony in their school districts.
|Keywords:||Superintendent Preparation Programs, Critical Conversations, Second Order Change, Team Building, Voices from the Field|
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois, USA