EDL 669 LEADERSHIP FOR CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING

Report of Environmental Scan

This form must be completed after observing a P20 educational unit and analyzing assessments of all elements within the environmental scan protocol.

Name(s):

 Lissa Layman

Location:

 AISK

Date(s) scan conducted:

 February 17-25, 2015

A survey based on Environmental Scan Protocol was sent to all elementary and high school staff and a select number of middle school staff. A total of 27 staff members (of approximately 100) completed the survey. For the purposes of analysis, Needed was converted to a 1, Evident to a 2 and Adequate to a 3. The responses for each Distinguishing Characteristic were averaged. These Characteristics were then averaged in order to make conclusions about each Dimension. When the Dimensions were averaged, AISK scored 1.83 on overall creativity climate. See last page for full results.

To what extent does the P20 education unit support creative engagement within work groups?  Include specific examples of observed behaviors or workplace conditions that support your response. [2 points]

The average response for the Distinguishing Characteristics of Work Groups was 1.97, Evident. The highest Characteristics were "The thinking styles, skills, and experiences of group members are diverse and balanced" and "Group member formally establish behavior guidelines for how they should work together and treat each other" both with average responses of 2.17. The lowest Characteristic was "The work environment supports those who think differently from the majority" with an average response of 1.66.

AISK hires teachers from all over the world with a variety of backgrounds which leads us to have a diverse staff. In addition, we are an International Baccalaureate school and our staff is encouraged to not simply teach but also live the IB Learner Profile.

Using protocols for staff meetings has become the norm at AISK during the last 3 years. Staff are accustomed to establishing guidelines for work groups. We have worked through compass points and use this knowledge to help us communicate and collaborate.

We are a diverse staff but that does not mean that we are always supported when we think divergently. There are times when decisions are made at the administrative level and teachers are not involved and do not feel heard. Delving into a specific story here would take more characters than I have available to me.

To what extent does the P20 education unit evidence a positive psychological environment for creativity? Include specific examples of observed behaviors or workplace conditions that support your response. [2 points]

The average response for the Distinguishing Characteristics of Psychological Environment was 1.98, Evident. The highest Characteristic was "People have opportunities to take on assignments that involve risk and that stretch their potential" with an average response of 2.21. The lowest Characteristic was "Rewards or recognition are given for creative ideas" with an average response of 1.7.

Staff at our school are encouraged to be risk-takers. We are given $700 a year to pursue professional development that is relevant and meaningful to us. All three divisions (Elementary, Middle & High) have recently turned staff meetings into EdCamps. We take risks and encourage our students to as well.

Rewards and recognition seem to be difficult at every educational unit with which I have been involved. I often do the right thing but have never felt truly recognized and appreciated for it. However our high school principal is trying to break this mold. He routinely calls out specific staff in his weekly newsletter and posts notes on doors of teachers with words of specific appreciation. This does not mean that the ideas that are being recognized are creative however.

To what extent does the P20 education unit provide a physical environment conducive to creativity?  Include specific examples of workplace conditions that support your response. [2 points]

The average response for the Distinguishing Characteristics of Psychological Environment was 1.8, just shy of being Evident. The highest Characteristic was "People are encouraged to make their workspaces reflect their individuality" with an average response of 1.97. The lowest Characteristics were "The workplace includes stimulating objects such as journals, art, and other items that are not directly related to work" and “The workspace includes both areas for boisterous interaction and areas for quiet reflection” both with an average responses of 1.66.

Our offices and classrooms are blank walls when we walk in. Staff are encouraged by principals to make their classrooms places where learning is stimulated. During the last 2.5 years I have transformed my (our) office into a space that I want to be. I have a plant, lamps, artwork, pictures from home, a bulletin board with notes from important people in my life and more. Teachers have painted their classrooms and are allowed to hang things on the walls.

In general our school is very sterile - white walls, white floors. There are not many common spaces for staff to congregate and our Middle and High school hallways are open air. We have 2 small staff lounges for teachers and a library. These are the only places in the school that staff would be able to go for either quiet reflection or boisterous interaction. None of these spaces are warm and inviting and places that staff flock to. Any decorations or objects in the school are usually directly related to education.

In what ways can creative work be enhanced through changes in the climate, culture, and context of the P20 education unit observed?  Justify your response with specific examples based on the climate dimensions in the environmental scan protocol or on course readings. [3 points]

The number one thing that could be changed at AISK is a vision, a mission, a goal. For the last eight years we have been under the guidance of a non-leading leader. Lester (1993) considers this the most destructive type of leader. This is our current Superintendent’s last year. During my two and a half years at AISK, he has never communicated his vision with staff. This leads us to believe that there is no guiding vision for our school. We are not exactly sure where we are going nor if we are on the correct path. Although I report directly to him, I have never had him ask for my yearly goals. In fact when I sent them to him last year I was told “Your efficiency and professionalism are beginning to irritate me.”

I have hopes that our incoming Superintendent (our current Middle School Principal) will have a vision and be a much-needed leader. However I am not sure how creative he will be. In the past it seems as though he has made decisions without taking adequate time to think divergently. When he makes a decision he also seems unlikely to change his mind, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

The two biggest ways that a creative climate can be enhanced at AISK is the creation and communication of a vision and a Superintendent who is committed to being a creative leader.

What did you learn by completing this assignment? [1 point]

I learned that I am not alone. Other staff at AISK believe that we have a ways to go before we are truly embrace a creative climate. Although AISK is not ‘Adequate’ in any of the Distinguishing Characteristics, we hovered around Evident for all of them with Promoting Group  Convergence being the closest to Needed. The first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging that there is one. This survey has shown where we can grow in order to become a more creative workplace. I look forward to sharing the results of this survey with our admin in hopes that they will be willing and excited to start nurturing a creative climate at AISK.