Motion Leadership in Action

Conference News Online – 2013

By Donna Fagerholm

Walking into Michael Fullan’s plenary session, “Motion Leadership in Action,” I anticipated a presentation on insights and strategies to use to move my school's improvement system forward and thereby increase the growth of all students. His address was actually more focused on whole system reform, or a central or district approach.

Fullan began by discussing the "doing of change." Three stances must be addressed and mastered to accomplish positive forward movement: the change stance, the implementation stance, and the sustainability stance. Fullan covered the steps within these stances and the research to support them. The starting point for the change stance is moral imperative and the link to the moral imperative of the school/system with evidence of progress.

Next, Fullan discussed effective and ineffective policy "drivers" of change. While we have to still contend with the ineffective drivers, we need to position fitting drivers (such as capacity building and collaboration) in our strategies. Social or team capital, as opposed to individual capital, is important in making this happen. Leaders must develop different forms of capital and effectively deal with a resistance mindset to make effective change.

Fullan's view toward technology has recently changed somewhat. He used to see it as an ineffective driver, but now he sees it as mechanism for partnership between students and teachers. It expands the time students can be learning to 24/7.

Fullan briefly touched on a plethora of ideas; his publications provide more in-depth information. At one point, he challenged attendees to consider what it means to “teach like a pro.” His handout gave the audience a “compare and contrast” chart that I intend to use as a starting point for change conversations with my school’s PLC. In closing, Fullan advised that although the next few years will be chaotic for the principalship, new opportunities will emerge from the turmoil.

Donna Fagerholm is principal of Sinclair Elementary School in Manassas, Virginia.


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