“The Change Process” A Talk by Dennis Copeland

We had a guest speaker a couple of days ago, Dr. Dennis Copeland. He is an Elementary Principal at Randolph Township, New Jersey Schools; he is also on a Board of Education for another school district. He is a former HS Principal as well, 13 years total in administration. His talk was entitled “The Change Process,” and I was impressed with his organization and ideas. One item I liked about the talk, was that he had a clear understanding of what he believed in, especially with his use of educational or leadership theory. His style of leadership is “Servant Leadership” and he defined clearly his leadership ideas.

  • 1)      Clarity (Bolman and Deal – 4 frames)
  • 2)      Decision Making (Senge – 5 disciplines Systems Thinking)
  • 3)      Communication (Covey – 7 habits)
  • 4)      Data Use (ASCD)
  • Seek first to understand, then be understood (COVEY)
  • 4 Frames Political (power)  Symbolic (rituals) Human Resource (people involved) Structural (systems, processes)
  • Data / Research / Best Practices
  • Systems Thinking – personal mastery / team learning / shared vision / mental models

There are five parts to the change process.

1)      (most important) – clarity What are your non-negotiables? – Who Am I? Where Am I going? I believe…

2)      Decision-Making – It is important to let people know how you reached a decision. You will make decisions with your head and your heart.

3)      Communication – Who should be informed before, during, and after? You should put it on the white board.  Bring in your brain trust.

4)      Data Use – (best practices, use data to justify the decision) “Your school is only as strong as your weakest students.” Dr. Copeland suggested the following resources to keep up with the latest educational research.

American Educational Research Association

They have a national conference every year.  Teachers College out of Columbia a daily list serve with new research study TC Record.edu  – HGSE.edu  – Harvard Graduate School of Education with a list serve every 2 weeks – Journals PDK (Phi Delta Kappan.org) – ASCD.org – EdWeek.org (Education Week) also has a list serve

5)      Shared Leadership – It’s okay to let go! Find your supporters (who is on the bus?)

Dr. Copeland definitely opened my eyes to using more research to drive my decisions. I will subscribe to the list serves that he suggested. I will also do a bit of research with his models of decision making. That is something that I can improve on, being a bit more organized with making decisions and documenting the process. It will also help me anticipating problems.

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