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Posts Tagged ‘implications’

This is the eighth and final post in a series  sharing some of my findings and reflections from my recent doctoral dissertation – How BC School Superintendents Spend Their Time.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about time over the last three years – how I spend my time at work and how my superintendent colleagues spend theirs.  I was fortunate that 59 of the 60 school superintendents participated in the study that gave a comprehensive insight into answering the question – just what do BC school superintendents do?  And while the results are interesting, the obvious next question is, OK, now that you know what you and your colleagues do, so what?   Before wrapping up this summer series of eight blog posts, I will share what I see as some of the implications and thoughts on the shifting nature of the job. 

It is also worth considering the role that the learning transformation agenda is having and will have on the superintendency in British Columbia. Superintendents are being expected to lead major changes in curriculum and assessment that are intended to ensure British Columbia maintains its standing in global education. While all school jurisdictions in North America have ongoing reform efforts, those in British Columbia have been exceptionally broad and ambitious. British Columbia has built as Tim Hopper and Kathy Sandford describe as “a landscape of innovation, personalization, and inquiry in classrooms, schools, and districts.” These transformation expectations, which have increased over the last decade, could lead to differently skilled individuals aspiring to the superintendency and to boards making different selections in their hiring for this position. The Ministry of Education in British Columbia has been clear about its vision, “to truly transform education, the BC education system must empower innovation throughout the province.”. Being a passionate learning leader with a strong background in curriculum and assessment, with a vision around transformation, is now mandatory for the superintendent position. Tracking how this focus might impact who is hired into the superintendent position will be interesting to follow.

There are several implications from this study for various educational partners. For superintendents, this study allows them to put their work in the context of their colleagues. With the high participation of superintendents, the study gives a complete picture of the entire province. Particularly for newer superintendents, the ability to compare their experiences to others in the role is valuable. I would encourage current superintendents to look at their use of time in relation to their colleagues and use this as an opportunity to consider other approaches to their work. This study can act as a conversation starter for superintendents who often do not ask each other how they allocate their time.

For the British Columbia School Superintendents’ Association, this study makes a strong case for adding additional supports for newer superintendents and for differentiating support for superintendents based on the size of school districts. It does seem that being a superintendent of a district of fewer than 6000 students is far different from a superintendent of larger districts. Typically, support for superintendents has been similar, but if the jobs are different, small and large districts’ superintendents should be offered different types of support. There is also an opportunity for the superintendents’ association to support female leaders currently in other district positions who may aspire to the superintendency. It can be an uncomfortable question, but what can the superintendents’ association do to ensure greater diversity in its ranks. More generally, for aspiring superintendents, this study shows that if they have seen one model in their district of how a superintendent spends their time, it is not the only model. As these individuals move into the role, they should seek out others in the province to consider different approaches to how they allocate their time and areas that get their primary attention.

For boards, there is an opportunity to reflect on their interactions with their superintendent. The wide range of time commitments is worthy of follow-up. Numerous superintendents referenced the distraction some board behaviour can be to the organization, and this issue is worth additional study. Boards also have a role to play in supporting new superintendents and ensuring they have the professional development in place to be successful. Both boards and the BC Ministry of Education should be looking at how they could make fewer urgent requests and be more strategic in their asks of superintendents.

Finally, this study provides a useful look into the superintendency for those in the community. This study helps to humanize the position.  The leaders in these positions are experienced educators spending long hours both managing and leading the school system.

I recognize my bias, but I was impressed by the complete and unwavering commitment that my colleagues have to the important goals of our system.  BC superintendents are driven by purpose—to enhance learning opportunities and outcomes for their students in their districts.

Want to read more?  My full dissertation is available under the research tab.  And here is the full list of posts with links from this summer on the various topics.

Gender and the Superintendency

The Impact of Student Populations on the Work of the Superintendent

The Majority of BC School Superintendents are New to their Jobs

Learning Leader vs. Community Leader

The Impact of Boards on How Superintendents Spend Their Time

All Urgent All the Time!
Controlling Time is a Matter of Perspective

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