Leading in a Time of Change

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Leading in a Time of Change

This article appears in the September edition of The Bulletin.


Each month ASBSD President Pam Haukaas will highlight a topic, which is helping advance K-12 education in South Dakota.




“A Leader begins with a vision for something good – has the capacity to share that vision and enlist others to build a team for achieving the vision.” – Carol Tomlinson


This is both a challenging and exciting time to be a school board member.


We have the continuing challenge of too little money coupled with the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balance compounded with new teacher and principal evaluations.


These challenges, however, lead to new opportunities in leadership.


We are in a time of transition where, through technology, meeting the educational needs of every child every day is a possibility. This means looking at the way we deliver education in a new light.


The “Weight Bearing Walls” – a term used in the book Inevitable – of old need to be replaced with structures where time is the variable and learning is constant, where students are placed at their appropriate developmental instructional level and progress to the next performance level once proficient. Instruction will focus on deeper meaning and application of skills thus preparing students for a work place not yet envisioned.


Think about it, just ten years ago we did not have Facebook, now there are more than a billion users. The first iPad was released in 2010. Now it, along with a variety of similar devices, is part of most households.


What will the next ten years bring? Our schools must give our children the foundation to tackle that future.



Leadership in this time of transition will mean that we will be stepping in to an arena that may disturb the equilibrium and involve risk. As board members, you will focus on your school vision and alter your strategic plan to fit this new paradigm.


To do this you must first be armed with good information.


You and your board must do the homework necessary to understand the changes in education. If you have not yet done so, plan a book study of Inevitable to explore the vision of personalized instruction. Read Jim Collins’s Good to Great and the Social Sectors to better understand how to achieve superior results or Daniel Pink’s Drive for insight into what actually motivates people.


As you move forward your board needs to work with your superintendent as a team to:

  • Keep open lines of communication
  • Build trusting relationships
  • Develop a clear focus
  • Use data to inform
  • Brainstorm possibilities
  • Explore options
  • Build consensus
  • Develop a plan
  • Continually monitoring that plan and adjust along the transition journey


It is always easier and less risky to do nothing and maintain the status quo. But as our children face the 21st century, will you be the leader to encourage innovation and drive towards solutions never before thought possible?


Every journey begins with a first step. Are you the board member to take that step and be a leader in a time of change?

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