Metro Schools Invests in Leadership Training for Culture Change

Metro Schools has invested in leadership consultants with Gallup Strengths Center and the Arbinger Institute to facilitate a transformation of the district’s culture.  The training and ongoing coaching will support board, senior staff, school leadership, union and central office staff in building a collective and accountable district-wide focus on effectively and respectively serving students and families.

Dr. Shawn Joseph is focused on results for our students and the role Metro Schools employees play in affecting the experience of students and families in our system. Since arriving in Nashville, Dr. Joseph has expressed his intent to create a world-class education system for all students. In order to achieve high expectations and unprecedented results, Dr. Joseph is investing in leadership development for the board, senior staff, school level leadership, union and central office staff.

Unlike traditional leadership development, which tends to impart theories and facts or call on participants to adopt new behaviors, the work being undertaken at Metro Schools is designed to facilitate employee self-awareness of and understanding about how and why we do the things the way we do.

Gallup Strengths Finder helps people understand their unique talents (along with their colleagues’) and the ways in which those talents can be nurtured into strengths that boost their performance and satisfaction.

The Arbinger Institute helps people learn to use a series of frameworks, maps and tools to:

  • properly diagnose, reframe and resolve conflict and problems;
  • increase engagement, commitment, collaboration and accountability;
  • enhance leadership, communication and collaboration skills; and
  • focus on results and people—on being responsive rather than resistant to ideas, diverse perspectives and customers.

This leadership development – along with other capacity building for principals and those who support and develop them – is squarely focused on bringing central office staff into buildings to support school leaders and educators and to align the district’s collective efforts and culture with teaching, learning and organizational culture priorities.

This week, some board members, union partners and senior staff are participating in Arbinger Institute train-the-trainer sessions focused on strategies for helping Metro Schools build a collective and accountable district-wide focus on effectively serving students and families. To ensure that Metro Schools moves forward in a fiscally-responsive approach to leadership development, these Metro Schools participants will then be able to teach others to work within these same frameworks and not rely on outside experts to conduct the training.

Neither the Strengths Center nor the Arbinger Institute work are tools for hiring or evaluation of work assignments, but rather the investment in people is designed to help employees improve their performance and collectively focus on improving teaching, learning and organizational culture.

Note that Dr. Joseph – while investing in known strategies for improving performance of the district’s people – is planning a thorough fiscal analysis of major district-wide expenditures. This analysis – which will be led by Chief Operating Officer Chris Henson and a carefully selected team comprised of Metro Schools staff and city government representatives – will be designed to help identify immediate actions to realign budget line items to more directly serve students and the district’s strategic priorities.


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