Multi-level Leadership Models: Bassett High School
Leadership models that work! True leadership at a school or business revolves around building capacity. Twenty-first century education and business institutions are far too complex to be governed by a single person because of such a significant turnover rate.
One of many significant consulting assignment I had was working with an under-performing school in Los Angeles County. Low state test scores, high absenteeism, disengaged students, outdated teacher pedagogical practices were just a few of the systemic issues encountered at Bassett High School.
As with all my Leadership Model consultant work, I meet with potential client-stakeholders to assess the many operational and instructional aspects of the system. At the beginning of this initial phase I began my collaboration with the principal Marc Jackson. According to Marc, “going outside of the school to hire a consultant is a start and trusting your consultant to work collaboratively with your staff is paramount. This began my two-and-a-half-year commitment with Bassett high school
The high school was one of many dysfunctional parts of the bigger “district” system. My first step was to facilitate consensus of a vision, mission, set of shared values and strategic goals that would become the strategic focus for my work.
Year 1 focused on training leaders at the school site, which included the principal, assistant principal, all department chairs, the district curriculum director and the superintendent. Definitive curricular and instructional leadership roles were defined for department chairs. There was continuous data collection, action plans that were charted, with on-going debriefing with the team. Modifications were made as needed to the plan. Teachers were viewed and accepted as leaders.
As the principal, Dr. Jackson witnessed the teacher voice as it became stronger. What he came to appreciate was the leadership growth in each other and within themselves as school leaders. School climate changed for the positive. The relationships between school/administration/county were one.
The shared vision, mission, values and goals allowed for department chairs to receive professional learning throughout the next two years to train and lead change. The focus was on data and making data-driven decisions that would have maximum impact on classroom instruction and student achievement.
Leadership models were shown to have significant success over two and one-half years working with staff at Bassett High. The new data stream showed significant leaps and bounds– scores on the state tests improved dramatically. School climate changed toward the positive. Student attendance rates went up and site discipline issues dropped way, way down. For example, leaders in different departments produced incredible success. Ultimately, these accomplishments happened because of building relationships.
I am humbled by Marc’s comment regarding my journey with Bassett–“I thank Dean Gilbert for that, and I would recommend for any district to hire this consultant if you get the chance to bring him on. I can say from personal experience, you will never doubt the day you did.”