I’m very excited to have established this partnership with WASDA and be able to provide services to you as a member this fine organization. Of all the topics that I have provided advisory, training and coaching services, the one area that I enjoy the most – and the one that I believe is most relevant to the leadership challenges in your District – falls within the area of ENGAGEMENT. This topic has been researched, reviewed, conferenced and actively written about for over ten years and it is something we now know impacts the hearts and minds of professionals in highly productive organizations.

There are three types of engagement related services that I address when working with school districts:

Board engagement

Members of your board are there because they want to make a positive difference, they have honorable intentions but paradoxically, many do not have the experience or skills to function in this complex capacity. High functioning boards are not automatically elected, they are made, which requires a conscious effort and you are in the position to lead them in that journey.

I have partnered with many districts by leading board sessions that help them to perform more effectively. There are usually three areas of emphasis:

  • Establishing an organizational focus—which includes having a clear mission, vision and guiding principles.
  • To ensure there is operational alignment so there is agreement among the members on how they function as a governing body and knowing how to do so.
  • There is institutional commitment to the district’s stakeholders which includes monitoring the right information and being accountable for results that matter for students. Discussions in these areas can occur at regularly scheduled board meetings or I can also work with you to and facilitate board retreats—which are also great ways to strengthen relationships among the members.

In short, the emphasis here is helping your board to pay attention to where attention needs to be paid.

Staff engagement

Here we are focusing on how much an individual is mentally, emotionally and behaviorally connected to their work and the organization they work for. Most of us know what an engaged person looks like—they are ENERGIZED, PASSIONATE AND COMMITTED to the success of your district and believe they will impact that success. They exhibit discretionary effort—demonstrate what they are capable of vs. what they can do to get by.

Research tells us, however, that in most organizations, less than one-third consider themselves actively engaged, but when they are, they are

  • 3x more likely to recommend improvements
  • 4x more likely to stay in current job
  • 5x more likely to recommend their workplace

. . . A competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talent

There are many factors that impact a person’s level of engagement and the two that have the most impact are the quality of the learning and development that is available and the type of leadership that they experience. Employee engagement is at is strongest when leaders adopt a servant leadership style and are committed to consciously creating a culture that is inspirational for all staff and students.

Community engagement

We know the importance of a meaningful relationship between a school district and the communities it serves—the vision and values of how students are educated need to be clear and aligned. QUESTION: What is your and your Boards proactive strategy for engaging the public in a meaningful way?

There are many ways to do this and the methods you choose can be determined depending upon your purpose be it to inform, consult, involve or collaborate with your community. All have their merits and I can help you determine the best method based on your purpose, what you’ve done in the past, and what your board is willing to support.

I have worked with over 40 districts in Wisconsin over the past ten years to design and facilitate community engagement discussions that range from addressing closing of school buildings, changing of school boundaries and providing facility advisory recommendations.

I have partnered with a number of you using variations of a future search approach to engaging communities in the identification of priorities that will shape the future of the district. By following specific principles and thoughtful activities, you will be able to host a community-wide conversation that will develop a vision that addresses the evolving needs of your students and the community, and in the process, strengthen community partnerships. The outcomes of these conversations will provide direction to your district’s strategic plan and help your board focus on what matters most to your community.