Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

April 20, 2011

Can schools be successfully run with shared decision making policies (SDM) or is Principal as sole decision maker the best method

#Edchat 04 – 12 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Our thanks this week go to Canadian school principal Darcy Mullin for the edchat summary. Although Darcy is quite new to edchat and PLN in general he has already made a big splash with his blog (see address below) and is becoming a star performer at edchat! This was an important topic for teachers and the discussion explored lots of ideas and practices. These have all been captured in a very vivid way in this summary and I am sure that everyone will enjoy reading it. Thank you Darcy. Find out more about Darcy in his bio at te end of the post.

I found today’s #edchat extremely interesting.  What I found particularly interesting was the almost universal agreement that SDM is an effective way to affect school change and that many people were able to cite specific examples of effective SDM in their schools.  As @cybaryman1 pointed out, it was great to have teachers and administrators on the same page and engaged in quality conversation.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Shared Decision Making (SDM) means just that.  It is important to engage all stakeholders – teachers, students and parents.
  • SDM benefits the school because everyone shares the vision and had a hand in its development.
  • SDM is most effective when a leader is courageous enough to cede control, but maintain focus, take ownership of problems, but give (not take) credit for successes
  • Ultimately, someone (often the principal) must make the final decision, but seeking input from all stakeholders is essential.  Some issues such as contract, salaries etc. are not conducive to the SDM model.
  • Sometimes, with SDM there are too many voices and efficiencies are lost.  It is best to use prudently for decisions that involve many or all stakeholders.
  • When administrators are willing to give up some of the decision-making control they empower staff teams.  That said, if teachers are not willing to be part of the process they must respect the outcomes.
  • In order for the model to be effective there must be a culture of collaboration and trust in the school.

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 
With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

@cybaryman1:  Great to see administrators and teachers discussing this here.
@inquirebook:  Creating a rubric is one form of goal setting. Involving students in the process helps them share the goals
@tomwhitby:  Once you’ve got them by the RUBRICS their hearts and minds will follow
@CTuckerEnglish: Letting go of control is scary for many, but the possibilities & potential when all voices are included is infinite
@jonbergman:  Visionary leader needs to rely on their experts and cast the vision collaboratively
@TonyEdTechTip:  along with Trust..follow through is important. Every1 has to do what they said they are going to do
@QZLPatriotHawk: No decision I’ve made as a principal has worked better than the ones my teachers & students have made.
@UltimateTeacher: SDM will raise teacher’s job satisfaction…which is highly needed now. The question is how much to give?
@fliegs: No 1 person has the right answer but collectively we can find common best fit
@davidwees: Everyone involved in SDM have their own agendas. You can’t make a decision without a perspective
@ericjuli: I think admins need to create a culture of Shared Decision Making, aligned to core values that whole school community agrees with
@jessievaz12: The only thing you MUST ensure is shared understanding of the vision or goal. W/out that you are sunk with shared decisions.
@thomsponscience: Sustaining commitment can happen when people are given REAL responsibility, not just asked for opinions
@davidwees: You can’t turn SDM on and off. Once the genie is out of the bottle, people will expect input (which is OK!)
@tomwhitby: It is always difficult to buy into someone else’s vision. A vision developed by a team is easily adopted by the team
@QZLPatriotHawk: I have found the best admin are the ones that take blame for failures and give away credit for school successes.
@davidwees: Advantages of SDM: Students get opportunity to learn HOW to make decisions.

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

@NewVictory: Incredible. Empower more principals! RT @alizag: The Fragile Success of School Reform in the Bronx – http://nyti.ms/gBfsiI

cybraryman1:  Flowchart of the Shared Decision-Making Process (District level – adapt to school level) http://tinyurl.com/3ufwr7x  #edchat

@tomwhitby: Agreed! RT @L_Hilt: Awesome. @datruss Open Educator Manifesto | Connected Principals http://bit.ly/eeCjRB  #cpchat #edchat

@amandacdykes I Don’t Rock http://bit.ly/gVw7Qf  #edchat

4thGrdTeach My district’s technology plan http://ow.ly/4yCUC #edchat 

 This is Darcy Mullin.  He is a Principal in a small rural school in British Columbia, Canada.  He lives in  Summerland which is located in the beautiful Okanagan Valley.
I am relatively new to the world of twitter, blogging and using social media as a learning tool.  I am excited and empowered by the learning I am able to be a part of as I navigate this new medium.  I am very interested in Personalized Learning and student engagement. I am always looking to learn and connect.  Please feel free to drop by my blog darcymullin.wordpress.com and leave a comment.


New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat



If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!


1 Comment »

  1. In my role as a headteacher (principal) in England leading my second school I have found distributed leadership the key to rapid improvement. I have developed a range of change teams and forums to ensure decisions are made at the appropriate level of the organisation. As well as ensuring the right decisions are made I have found that improvments we have made have been sustained beyond the departure of key leaders whether through promotion or maternity leave. Jon Barr

    Comment by p2pschoolnetworks — April 20, 2011 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

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