Practical wisdom of Deb
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
Deb realized that ISD would affect many aspects of Franklin's
instructional program. She addressed ISD design through a
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.
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
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.