Taking a fresh look at the fundamentals…

I started this blog in 2010. 

Since then I have published 452 posts that have produced hundreds of thousands of views and more than 1,500 comments that have enriched and deepened our collective understanding of those topics.

Readers are system and school administrators, teacher leaders, and “retired” educators who often continue to contribute to schools and their communities in a variety of ways. They share a desire for intellectual engagement, contrarian ideas, and a deep concern for the well being of children and public education now and in the future.

Perhaps most of all, they are resilient, at least those I know personally—that is, many have been challenged by and learned important lessons during difficult times and persisted in their work in the face of often daunting obstacles. One way they demonstrate that persistence is reading this and other blogs, among many other activities that stretch their thinking and practice.

Over my career as a teacher leader, school and school system leader, and executive director of NSDC (now Learning Forward) I have worked with thousands of individuals and teams in a variety of settings—among them K-12 schools and system offices, universities, teacher unions, and non-profits.

No matter the setting or decade (or even century), several common leadership themes emerge in that work: 

• establishing trust and productive teamwork in cultures of continuous improvement,

• being persons of integrity, 

• solving complex problems that have no straightforward solutions, 

• influencing colleagues who may not wish to be influenced, and

• engaging others in ways that produce meaningful, sustained professional learning and commitment to long-term purposes and goals.

What are the implications of these experiences and my 452 posts as I think about the future of this blog?

In the course of my work with groups a number of “fundamentals” inevitably arise: planning and conducting effective meetings, having candid conversations about important topics, influencing beliefs, creating respectful and productive relationships, deepening understanding of new ideas and practices, and developing new habits of mind and practice.

As I review blog posts from previous years I am aware that particular essays have addressed those topics in ways that resonated with readers who continue to return to them many years after their publication. 

A primary focus this school year will be bringing back some of those posts to new readers and others who may benefit from considering these ideas again from a fresh perspective. In addition, new posts will be added to the mix as important issues arise in the months ahead.

I look forward to taking this journey into the known and unknown with you as we reprise the fundamentals and explore emerging ideas and practices. 

5 Responses to “Taking a fresh look at the fundamentals…”

  1. 1 Kathryn September 5, 2018 at 8:04 am

    I am looking forward to your upcoming posts. I remember reading your columns/articles in NSDC magazine I subscribed to for years and was strongly influenced by your work and insight especially as it relates to leadership. I attended one of your conferences in the mid 2000’s that guides my leadership still today. Thank you for your leadership and reminders to stay focused on the real work as educators!

  2. 2 Gail A Kinsey September 5, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Thanks, Dennis! i do enjoy your posts.

  3. 3 Kent Peterson September 5, 2018 at 11:49 am

    This is a great idea! You have addressed so many different themes in depth, it is good to read them again…

  4. 4 Greg Fowler September 6, 2018 at 9:15 am

    I look forward to reading your posts. The fundamentals listed are the exact ones I focused on during my twenty years as a high school building leader. The conversation piece is crucial and is not a skill many master.

  5. 5 Dennis Sparks September 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    My thanks to all of you for your insights and kind and supportive words.

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