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Ideas and Hope and Energy...Oh my!

In her book Resourceful Leadership, Elizabeth City mentions several "ingredients" for school improvement. Three of these, ideas, hope, and energy, are rather intriguing. I think that these three are particularly interesting because, like most valuable things, they are very rare. Let's consider them one at a time.

Ideas: It makes sense that if the old truism "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten" holds true, absent new ideas, school improvement efforts will likely fall short. Six years ago I came to this job with the notion that schools and their leaders had the necessary ideas, they just faced numerous barriers to implementation. Through my experiences at The Center, I have come realize that we have a tragic dearth of ideas. In fact, many creative souls within the school framework pay a heavy price for even venturing to offer a new idea.

Hope: City describes hope in Resourceful Leadership as the desire to see a situation improve combined with the understanding that you have a role to play in that improvement. Unlike other uses of the word hope (City uses the example of a person telling another 'I hope you feel better') this connotation incorporates both the desire to see improvement AND the recognition that you have a role to play in that improvement. While I am tempted to refer to hope as "efficacy," I can see the importance of desire in the equation. I think that you would have a hard time finding school personnel that did not have a desire for improvement. As to the recognition that every person has a role to play in bringing that improvement to fruition; the jury is still out.

Energy: This ingredient is frequently overlooked. The work of school improvement is exhausting, a full tank of energy is required. I think that Dr. City is referring to collective energy. While some might be tempted to lump energy into another attribute, capacity, I think there is value in the difference. While capacity seems to imply capability, energy refers to the stamina (emotional and physical) required to carry out the work.

I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately about what Ohio is calling the Decision Making Framework. Since we love acronyms in Ohio, sometimes we just say that your CIP must be informed by OIP, but not until your SST has presented the DMF. In my reading, I have not seen a reference to ideas, hope, and energy. Maybe Dr. City ought to create more acronyms.

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