Presenting Leadership for Social Justice
Integrated Service Delivery
About this multimedia case

What is ISD?

Franklin School

Why was ISD made?

How was ISD built?

What happened as a result of ISD?

How would it work in my school?

Home > How would it work in my school? > Practical wisdom

Practical wisdom of Deb Hoffman

The real lessons drawn from this case are those you come away with after exploring the dimensions of ISD. However, we'd like to highlight several features of Deb Hoffman's practice that helped make ISD a success at Franklin.

Establishing ISD meant comprehensive restructuring

Deb realized that ISD would affect many aspects of Franklin's instructional program. She addressed ISD design through a Comprehensive School Reform plan to coordinate the curriculum, professional development, community, financial and political aspects of the school program. Researchers have found that the instructional program coherence contributes to the long-term success of a reform. Deb's comprehensive approach integrated a variety of resources and the perspectives of key stakeholders to ISD design. Emphasizing public measures of program success also contributed to ISD legitimacy.

Involving the community in the process

Researchers have long recognized that schools are conservative institutions. The core instructional practices of teaching and learning are difficult to alter in or across schools. Widespread change depends upon persuading teachers, parents and administrators of the value of innovations. Deb Hoffman sought to balance moving ISD forward with establishing the legitimacy for change in the community. Early parent and district reactions suggested she may have moved too soon in implementing ISD, but her efforts to explain ISD and the program results eventually won over her critics.

Resources to reflect, learn and tell the story

Changing established practices in schools requires that leaders provide ample opportunities for teachers to learn new practices and reflect upon what they learn. Most of the resources from the ISD Comprehensive School Reform grant were dedicated for teacher preparation and learning. Deb committed her own time and rhetoric to establishing her role as the symbolic leader of the school. Howard Gardner claims that leaders tell organizational stories. In this case, Deb used her role as school leader to tell how ISD would improve learning for all students at Franklin. After a time, her story became the story of Franklin.

Seeing established policies as tools for what she wanted

Expert leaders see opportunities where other see constraints. This is particularly true with mandated policies, programs and procedures that originate outside the local school context. Mandatory needs assessments, for example, are often taken as necessary evils that interfere with the ordinary practices of teaching and learning. Deb's practice, on the other hand, used the tools at hand, including district mandates, to generate data to inform her local agenda. Deb used the district planning, special education and data gathering tools as the key tools for ISD design. Her use of these tools conferred legitimacy both to the tools and to her actions within the school.