Close to 30 years ago, we began our systems thinking work with teachers and administrators in the Catalina Foothills School District (CFSD). A lot has changed over the past three decades, but the benefits of systems thinking have not. Not only do systems thinking concepts, habits and tools remain prevalent with teachers and students in CFSD classrooms, but they are also core to strategic priorities for the district as a whole. This year, we facilitated the CFSD Administrators Leadership Development Series, which focused on applying systems thinking to roles and responsibilities in order to create action plans that produce desired outcomes. We are grateful for our history and partnership with CFSD and look forward to continuing our relationship in 2019 and beyond!
Improving Learning Outcomes for Young Children with the CEELO Leadership Academy
This year marked the fourth year of our involvement in the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) Leadership Academy. Systems thinking has been a key component for the four cohorts of leadership fellows in the program, who have come from all across the country to develop systems thinking capabilities to positively impact their leadership development. This year the cohort included individuals from: Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas.
It’s been an honor to work with this group of outstanding individuals, and we are proud that evaluation data shows that fellows have reported their systems thinking knowledge has helped to reframe challenges into opportunities and to manage effectively both within and across their state agencies.
Emerging Leaders and the Value of Student Voices
This year we continued our work in the Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, AZ, funded by the Hewlett Foundation. While there have been many milestones and successes in 2018, we are particularly proud of students’ application and advocacy of systems thinking. This includes applying systems thinking habits, concepts and tools to address issues that are important to students (for example, campus culture, student success and ways to positively impact their community). Not only has this emergence of student voice and leadership influenced strategic goals for the district, it’s also enhanced the confidence, communication and critical thinking skills of Sunnyside students, some of whom participated in the 2018 Waters Foundation Milwaukee Systems Thinking Institute and presented at the 2018 EdLeader21 conference in Phoenix, AZ.
Sunnyside has also incorporated systems thinking into their Leadership Academy, which supports teachers who aspire to grow their leadership skills and career trajectory.
Event and Workshop Highlights