Strategic Directions Framework for BCELC
A body at rest or moving in a straight line will remain at rest or continue moving in a straight line at constant speed unless acted upon by a force
- Newton’s Law of Inertia
There is a strong demand for the supply of well-prepared leaders at the school and school district levels. The demand has three aspects:
• Succession planning – the need to replace retiring school leaders with cohorts of new leaders drawn from qualified pools of applicants.
• The need for both newly appointed and established school leaders to develop the motivation, knowledge, competencies, and moral courage required to lead in ways that make important differences to classroom practices and student achievement.
• The need to find promising individuals who should be prepared as school leaders, creating early opportunities for them to develop leadership skills, and encouraging them to assume leadership responsibilities in public schools throughout BC.
The recruitment and development of school leaders are matters of considerable importance. Quality schools require quality leadership.
THE BRITISH COLUMBIA EDUCATION LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
The Province established the BC Education Leadership Council – BCELC – to assess and address the leadership challenges in the public school system, to bring coherence to new and existing leadership development programs and to design and manage sustainable operations and activities to achieve these objectives by involving various industries.
Based upon an ambitious mandate set out in its Constitution, BCELC established its mission as “dedicated to creating the best leaders in every school and school district throughout British Columbia,” and its vision to be having “professionally educated leaders in every school and school district who hold as their moral purpose the success of every student, and are valued and supported by every board of education.”
BCELC was, among other things, to take those steps necessary to build and develop leadership potential and capacity throughout the public school system, to develop an organizational infrastructure that would provide the foundation for a learning – centred school leadership development framework, and to establish a reservoir of leadership expertise, knowledge and resources to address the expectations and requirements of individuals interested in education leadership, school jurisdictions (employers) and education partner groups.
BCELC has provided formal programs, direct services, program coordination and financial support for the development of leadership potential and capacity throughout the province in three key areas:
• Ministry of Education initiated projects undertaken on its behalf.
• Leadership development programs designed to meet the needs of client organizations and participants.
• Financial and design support to a variety of leadership learning providers for the development and delivery of leadership programs and supports to various individuals and groups.
BCELC has identified sustainability as one of its immediate challenges. The Ministry of Education will support BCELC infrastructure costs to provide the organizational capacity to deliver outcomes set out in contribution agreements between the Ministry and BCELC, to enable it to develop and deliver client-based leadership development programs and services on a cost recovery basis, to establish partnerships and collaborations that enhance the capacity of current and potential leadership development program providers to deliver programs to aspiring, emergent and established school and school district leaders, and to establish provincial standards for leadership development programs and experiences.
BCELC has taken the opportunity to reflect upon its current mandate, the programs and services it has delivered in addressing its mandate, and the financial support it will receive in the future. The purpose of this strategic planning framework is to chronicle these reflections and to set out realistic goals consistent with the mandate given to BCELC and its capacity to implement deliberate plans and strategies to achieve these goals. The benefit to be achieved by BCELC is ensuring the most effective use is made of its human and financial resources by focusing those resources on key priorities.
In evaluating its initiatives and progress over the period of its short history, people associated with BCELC – board members, senior directors, consultants, and beneficiaries of services provided – have had opportunities to reflect upon the nature of the business and the sector in which BCELC operates; why it is in that business and the significance of its mandate; where it should be placing its emphases, based upon review of what it has accomplished and what needs remain unmet; and the enabling capabilities it has to pursue these goals.
A PLANNING FRAMEWORK
The framework for preparing this draft of a proposed Strategic Plan for BCELC was loosely based upon approaches associated with two general models for strategic planning. The first general model is finding out what works in an organization and why, then doing more of it to improve performance. The second general model is thinking about what change factors promote change and inhibit change in an organization, then taking steps that capitalize on the former and mitigate the latter.
In very general terms, the first process engages people associated with an organization in a process of review and reflection for the purpose of strengthening effectiveness. It asks people to look at what works best and why and, based upon these capabilities, become open to new possibilities and potentials. Unique qualities and special strengths of the organization are built upon to identify new directions and reframe priorities.
In the second approach, the members of an organization identify and reflect upon the various forces, such as available resources, organizational structures, costs, customs, habits, beliefs and trends that will impact a proposed change. By listing driving and restraining forces and evaluating their respective strengths, the organization creates approaches strategies that reduce the impact of the restraining forces and strengthen the driving forces.
Documents provided by BCELC and persons associated with the activities of BCELC (e.g. staff, board members, consultants, program beneficiaries) were consulted with a view to gathering responses to the following questions:
• What are the factors, trends, issues and considerations (political, social, economic, educational) that are at work in the province that you think will shape the future of BCELC, the programs/services it provides and the ways in which these services/programs are provided/delivered?
• Based upon activities and experiences to date, and accounts received from participants, clients, and significant others, what do you believe to be the major successes of BCELC, its strengths and its capacity to deliver programs and services directed at improving leadership capacity in the province?
• You are in a unique position to identify unmet needs respecting the development of leadership capacity at the school and district level that makes a difference to student achievement. From your perspective and based upon your experience, what are the primary unmet needs?
• What do you think are the major challenges and obstacles that are and will be faced by BCELC in its efforts to continue to provide needed programs, services and continuing supports relating to the development of leadership capacity and mounting initiatives to address unmet needs?
• What do you think should be the major priorities in the future for BCELC?
STRENGTHS TO BUILD UPON
BCELC has achieved a record of success in its leadership development activities to date, and its proven capabilities will provide a firm foundation for enabling the further development of its mandate. It is evident that the programs and services provided directly or supported and coordinated by BCELC to date represent a significant and growing investment in leadership capacity in the Province. BCELC has:
• Introduced and infused standards for thinking about what is important in educational leadership.
• Caused school leaders to reflect more critically upon their current practices.
• Modeled exemplary program delivery designs for developing leadership mindsets and competencies.
• Expanded the quality of provincial and local conversations about the kind of school leadership required to elevate student performance.
• Created and nurtured networks of learning and dialogue among local, provincial, national and international educational leaders and researchers.
• Built trust with carefully planned and timely events, joint activities/collaborations, and impacts on professional working environments.
• Furnished an organizational infrastructure for various Ministry of Education initiatives, enabling them to be planned and delivered in a timely, cost-effective and reliable manner.
• Established a governance framework that provides fair representation of partner group interests and ingenuities and is consensus-oriented in managing expectations, allocating resources and providing general direction.
• Accumulated considerable expertise in the domains of technical skills and knowledge about leadership, contemporary leadership research and best practice, how to identify needs and provide a service, and familiarity with the sector and its needs.
THE QUALITY OF PROGRAMS
The accomplishments set out above acknowledge successes achieved by BCELC as a primary service provider and expert co-designer and developer of leadership development programs. The programs that BCELC has delivered have:
• Modeled the mindset that leadership is critical and pivotal for improving student achievement, fostering high performing schools and motivating highly skilled teachers.
• Introduced strong theory and research on how leadership practices with a sharp focus on guiding teaching and learning can influence student learning and transform school cultures.
• Provided illustrations and examples of how program content, pedagogy, and active learning can be combined and designed to be powerful means for preparing school leaders.
• Introduced, facilitated and nurtured peer-supported networks for aspiring and emerging school leaders that developed and provided myriad opportunities for situated learning and reflective practice.
Separately and together, these elements are all critical to impactful practice-based leadership learning. In short, the leadership development programs provided by BCELC have been commended for their excellent content, quality delivery, and connection to student learning, and have established the foundation and the “industry standard” to guide future programming and collaboration.
BROADENING THE LEADERSHIP BASE
Leadership behaviours and practices influence student learning. Student outcomes are more likely to improve when leadership is distributed throughout the school community. Cited accomplishments of BCELC speak to its efforts, over the past two years, to expand leadership development initiatives beyond that of delivering exemplary programs to aspiring and emerging principals and vice principals to meet leadership challenges and shortages to include discussions, supports and programs that build upon the leadership capacity of teachers, other employees and key education partner groups.
By convening various groups and individuals who work with students directly in networks of theory-based and practice-based discussions of leadership, teaching, assessment and learning, BCELC is paving the way and setting standards for collaboration and working partnerships, investing in the importance of distributed leadership, building leadership capacities in others, and delivering new programs and resources to support education partners that recognize their vital role and positive influence in student learning.
There are change forces that will shape the future directions and priorities of BCELC, the leadership development programs and services it provides, and the ways by which these programs, services and supports are delivered. The nature of these change forces give rise to different approaches to change.
At the first level, are the changes associated with responding to the change forces that are at work in the immediate social, political and economic environment, and beyond the control of BCELC. Such changes will influence what it does and how. Examples of inevitable change forces are changing demographics, changes in political priorities, and economic and labour force changes. An inevitable change force for BCELC is that while the Ministry will continue to support its mandate, it will provide funding only to support its basic infrastructure and all services provided will have to be on a cost recovery basis.
At the second level are the change forces associated with “unmet needs.” Addressing unmet needs means being open and attentive to what is going on around you; being purposeful and proactive and attending to unmet needs before they become demands; and being productive and action-oriented. The capacity of BCELC to act positively on these change forces speaks to it being an easily maturing, responsive and healthy organization that is able to adapt its priorities and shift its practices to address changes or urgencies in the environment in which it operates.
BCELC has identified – and included in its Business Plan – many of the unmet needs in the sector and recognizes the need for the redesign of the services it now provides and how they are provided. Most cited examples of unmet needs include:
• Identifying and developing school leaders at a faster rate and in larger numbers than is currently the case.
• Providing more leadership development programs and supports tailored to the learning needs of more established school leaders, who may remain untouched by newer, more learning-centred approaches to school leadership.
• Building strong school leadership teams that work collaboratively and confidently to guide teaching and learning in schools.
• Developing sustainable and functional linkages and partnerships between BCELC and university educational leadership programs and the various leadership program providers.
• Providing supportive environments and more enabling structures in school organization where teachers have more leadership time and opportunities to examine and reflect upon their teaching and implement ideas and programs that result from reflective practice.
• Creating more school leadership work and experiences for teachers that offer powerful learning experiences, help transform frames of reference and personal paradigms from those of a teacher to those of a leader, and provide powerful encouragements to pursue careers in school leadership.
At the third level are the change forces that originate within the organization – a product of the thoughtful visioning, strategic planning and ingenuity of its members. People associated with BCELC understand the sector, ask questions of themselves and others, listen carefully, read widely, talk to experts and scholars, and extrapolate from current trends and speculate on new directions that should be pursued. Pursuing these directions will extend the mandate of the organization and expand its “footprint” in the sector. Cited examples of needs in this sphere of change include:
• Creating opportunities for aspiring, emerging and established school leaders to think about and acquire a deeper understanding of the social, economic and political contexts and change forces that influence public education and the daily work of schools, and to guide their schools thoughtfully through the challenges and opportunities created by change.
• Developing the concept of social justice leadership that emphasizes the moral stewardship aspect of educational leadership and the pivotal role of schools and their leaders in addressing the inequalities and social injustices found in the schools’ larger environment.
• Providing emerging and established school leaders with essential skills in such areas as managing collective agreements, conflict resolution, and health and safety that enable them to balance and meet their leadership and managerial responsibilities in ways that create optimal conditions and environments for learning.
Earlier sections of this report have described the context for establishing future directions for BCELC, described the chief driving forces for changes to its current priorities and operations, described many enabling capabilities and summarized the unmet needs most frequently cited by individuals associated with BCELC.
In this section, the information set out in the previous sections has been organized and aggregated as four strategic issues or themes which can be broken into goals to guide the planning, priorities and operations of BCELC.
Organization for Leadership Development Program Delivery and Support
• Adjust organizational structure, business practices and systems, resource allocation and methods of service delivery to accommodate a cost recovery approach.
• Identify and develop a cohort of highly skilled and knowledgeable expert practitioners and leadership development program leaders that will provide a greater capacity to deliver timely leadership development programs and ongoing supports to participants in all regions of the Province.
• Position the importance of leadership and be a primary and valued provincial resource for school leaders and school districts by disseminating research and best practice that will drive effective leadership practices in schools and school districts.
• Champion and take an active role in the development of distributive leadership that conceptualizes leadership for greater student learning as occurring at many points and spread across people, places and situations throughout the school organization.
• Identify and secure new international markets for the intellectual capital – leadership programs, leadership knowledge, and program delivery expertise – that has been accumulated by BCELC.
Leadership Development Program Quality
• Ensure that pursuing scale does not compromise or diminish the high standards of content, pedagogy and follow up that are associated with the leadership development programs provided to date.
• Work with partner organizations, school districts and school leaders in the determination of standards and associated competencies – knowledge, skills, responsibilities and mindsets – for learning-focused leadership to inform and guide the content and methodologies of all leadership development programs
• Establish and manage a framework for the ongoing review and revision of standards and associated competencies – knowledge, skills and mindsets – for learning-focused leadership.
• Take the lead role in developing and applying robust measures and means for providing oversight and quality assurance in respect to the content, pedagogy, impact and sustainability of leadership development programs.
• Monitor leadership development programs provided throughout the Province, based on their alignment with established standards, impact upon practice and responsiveness to provincial needs.
Design and Provision of Leadership Development Programs
• Determine how to best design programs to bring high quality leadership development programs for aspiring, emerging and established school leaders “up to scale” within the restraints of a cost recovery framework.
• Managing, in consultation with school leaders, education partner groups and school districts, the design and delivery of tailor made leadership development programs, services and supports to aspiring, emergent and established school leaders.
• Create frameworks for leadership learning that enables universities, employers, education partner associations and other program providers to design and provide leadership development programs that are complementary and reflect a judicious balance of theory-rich, professional and practical knowledge.
• Develop, innovative, and cost effective service delivery models – modules, internships, online learning, mentorships, coaching, and learning networks – that can be used for providing leadership development programs and supports.
• Deliver the necessary expertise and ingenuity for informing the design and delivery of leadership development programs and supports delivered in a variety of settings and contexts for school leaders at different career stages through a variety of means.
Collaboration and Partnerships
• Provide the organizational infrastructure for the management and cost effective delivery of provincial services and initiatives on behalf of the Ministry of Education.
• Manage the expectations of school districts and partner organizations that currently view and count upon BCELC as a partner and the primary developer and service provider for leadership development programs within their jurisdictions.
• Form, strengthen and foster relationships and opportunities that bring together the financial and human resources of groups – universities, education partner organizations, school districts and leadership development program providers – to work collaboratively to better serve the learning needs of school leaders and school districts.
• Encourage and support school districts in their development of capacity to implement leadership succession plans and provision of high quality leadership development programs and ongoing supports to their aspiring, emerging and established school leaders.
• Work with universities to develop research objectives and agendas and to promote basic and applied research for the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge of leadership mindsets, practices, approaches and strategies that transform student achievement.