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Leadership and Organizational Change for Districts

Helping schools and districts be thriving and responsive organizations

Project Context

In our years of partnership with hundreds of school districts across the country, we've noticed trends in how the way teams work together.  We have seen that sometimes as teams work toward a goal or new initiatives their approach, or the team dynamics, instead get in the way of success.  In response to this, our CEO, Anthony Kim, in partnership with Alexis Gonzales-Black, an expert in organizational design, have collected best practices from other sectors, and compiled these into six new rules school districts can follow to improve how they work together. The goal of these new rules is to shift the traditional model of educational organizations away from a hierarchy with contained purpose and decision-making authority to a powerful and responsive organization with a shared purpose and distributed authority.

the new school rules


Despite a common understanding that schools need to evolve or change in order to better meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of their students, when districts roll out new initiatives or programs to do this, they are frequently met with three oft-repeated statements: “That won't work here;" "That's just another thing on my plate;" and "That’s not the way we've always done it.” These statements represent a larger concern: that schools and districts are overwhelmed by the amount of seemingly competing priorities they have and the various "new" ways of addressing these priorities. To support districts with this we began to think about how the six new school rules, pillars of any responsive organization, could be applied at various levels of leadership within a school and district.


Prior to developing practical ways to apply the six new school rules in districts, Education Elements took time to create a responsive roadmap to visualize the flow and cadence of how these new rules could be introduced over time. From this roadmap, the New School Rules Leadership course was created - a course that takes the six critical practices from the book around planning, teaming, managing roles, decision-making, sharing information, and learning organizations, and lays them out in a gradual release model. The objectives of the course are two-fold: (1) to build district knowledge of the 6 New School Rules through first-hand experiences; and (2) to shift individual leadership practice in a way that makes lasting change in the district, beginning with teams. In addition, Education Elements is hosting a New Schools Rules Institute to build capacity in practical application of the rules in districts and district leaders across the country.


The New School Rules Leadership course has helped leaders learn by using a four-part framework of learning: (1) Play or understanding why each new practice matters through first-hand experiences; (2) Expand their own knowledge of the new rules, practices, and resources; (3) Practice by using each rule on their own in small, low-risk ways; and (4) Apply this practice in real life and use a cycle of reflection and iteration to continuously improve. Although the first New School Rules Leadership courses have recently launched, the districts that are participating are already seeing tangible changes in the ways their teams operate and in their confidence in their responsiveness as leaders. Participants report that meeting time has been cut in half and that meetings feel more purposeful; that they have language they can use to communicate roles and accountabilities with their teams; and that they feel ready to be more collaborative and responsive to their district, school, and team needs.


New School Rules Leadership Seminar_ Session 0-2-654185-edited  New School Rules Leadership Seminar_ Session 0-2 (2)-681021-edited  New School Rules Leadership Seminar_ Session 0-2 (1)-710945-edited Workouts

"If we don't change how schools work and how they are organized, we won't ever realize the full potential of the work they do."

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