Slowing down and having everyone carry a piece of the load is the focus of leading change for the School District of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. In a recent article, Education Week paints an extraordinary picture of how Menomonee Falls stopped chasing new initiatives. Instead, they have built a culture where everyone focuses on how they can improve both individually and together.

Glimpse Through the Window at Leading Change with Menomonee Falls

Menomonee Falls has trained everyone – teachers, office staff, custodians, and bus drivers on problem solving frameworks. For example, custodians and teachers work together to problem solve ways to reduce illness with deep-cleaning classrooms during flu season. School office staff work together to diagnose key problems experienced when they merged schools and added an additional 500 students and seven buses. Working together, they ensure students (particularly the 4, 5, and 6-year old’s) ride the right bus as well as arrive home quicker. They turned chaos into a well-orchestrated machine.

On the academic side, students take much more ownership in achieving their goals. Students reflect on their own data and the strategies most effective for their learning. A student transitioning from middle school to high school shares how quarterly data check-ins have made her studying style much better. In addition, students with disabilities are active participants in developing their learning or instructional strategies. In addition, they report to adults (grades 3 and up) with a PowerPoint presentation on what is working for them.

Change comes from not any one improvement practice, but rather all the parts moving together. Leading change means focusing on the problem to solve, applying what is learned and including everyone in the process.

Rarely do we get an opportunity to glimpse through the window of a district like Menomonee Falls. They have and continue to lead change together.

Laura Swann, Studer Education

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