Diverse Systems, External Conditions, and Edupreneurism


Katherine Curry
Ed Harris

When we refer to schools as “systems,” our minds may be immediately drawn to the idea of a traditional school district. Typically, a school district consists of buildings organized by grade levels with teams of teachers leading classrooms full of same-age students in their respective grade levels. Although a traditional school district is, indeed, an example of a school system, 21st Century educational systems vary tremendously across the United States. Whatever “system” in which you may be, it is important to incorporate edupreneur mindset in ensuring all parts of the system are working to create the benefits you desire for your constituents.

Diverse Educational Systems

In our current educational context, a system may include any of the following examples:

  • a single classroom with one teacher facilitating student learning
  • a complex organization consisting of several schools, housing hundreds of students, across multiple campuses
  • an online learning community of just a few learners or even hundreds of learners
  • a network of schools joined by a unifying philosophy or educational approach
  • (Please see our Sample School Models and Budgets).

Regardless of the size, composition, or organization of these systems, all schools operate with a purpose centered upon enhancement of student learning and creating value for all constituents. All schools also utilize practices and procedures to reach their goals.  These practices and procedures work together to influence the intended outcome and fulfill the organizational goals of the school.

Applying Systems Thinking to a Single Classroom

A classroom is a system consisting of many parts: teachers, students, facilities, curriculum, technology, etc. In a single classroom, resources are needed to facilitate learning. These resources can include:

  • A qualified teacher
  • Textbooks
  • Technology
  • Student desks
  • Facilities

Understanding the ultimate goals of the system will help us to define the resources that are needed to achieve organizational goals. For example, if our outcome goal is to encourage students to integrate technology into their learning, we will need to be certain that the teacher we employ is skilled in technology and that we have the technological resources available to meet our end goal. If our end goal is language acquisition through an immersion model, we will want to be certain that our teacher is fluent in that language and that we have resources to support student learning of a second language.  Additionally, the types of resources invested into the system will influence the “way things are done” (activities) at the school. For example, technological resources may allow us to offer a hybrid, or blended learning, approach with some instruction offered online.

External and Internal Conditions

Additionally, because a systems approach considers influences both inside and outside of the organization, community context including community interests, needs, resources, and economic conditions may influence the outcomes of our organization. They also might influence the goals of the organization, resources available, and the types of activities that we employ to reach educational goals.  In sum, effective leaders understand efficiencies that can be accomplished by matching resources, activities, outputs and outcomes and by considering external forces that influence student learning.


  • How has the external factor of your state’s “economic conditions” effected student learning in your school system?
  • How has economic conditions effected your school’s activities? Its outputs? Its outcomes?
  • As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions?



  1. Christy Bennefield

    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions? Even though economic conditions are a challenge in the wake of the pandemic, the symbolic frame discussed in Bolman and Deal (2021) can play a role in keeping the goals your school has on track. If educators focus on the reason they come to work each day and the value they add to students, they can continue to make a positive impact. Educators and administrators can lean on each other’s strengths and creativity to seek ways to improve instruction that don’t require additional school funds. They can also work with community partners to help meet the needs of families affected by the current economic conditions.

  2. Jacob Miller

    My school district has not been effected by any external factors, as we have been having budget problems before any external factors. We are effected in being able to upgrade our facilities to give our scholars something to be proud of and in turn motivate them to want to be in a successful and safe school. As everyone is feeling the external factor of economic conditions in the raising prices of everything. We have to be more strategic in our budget and spending as we move forward.

    • Karie Moorehead

      The diversity of our school relies much on our ability to use different frames. I do not see one particular frame ranking above another, but rather a frame(s) being applied to best fit a situation. This is discussed in Chapter 15 in our text and makes so much sense to me. I have always been good at “seeing both sides” of a situation, which makes it difficult to make a decision sometimes. I feel like I can see a situation through different frames and use that knowledge to make the best decision. At this point, I can only hope that I gain such an understanding to know when to apply which frame. Administrators that are limited by one frame are essentially limiting their organization and as such the goals of the oraganization.

      Economic conditions are a major factor in learning. We have families worrying about having food on the table rather than providing reliable internet for students to continue working at home. So many of our textbooks in my school are used when we get them, so I find it is easier to meet our standards when I oursource to the internet. Economic conditions affect that when a student needs to work from home. Student success can not rely on only good economic times, we must ensure that student success remains a top priority. Providing printed information, up to date text books, usable libraries for research, and students using classtime to learn are ways we can work around low economic times.

  3. Sally Cox

    Many external factors are impacting education in Oklahoma and across the nation. The impact of covid on the economy has been difficult across the nation. Oklahoma already underfunded education and funding continues to drop. Jenks currently has a hiring freeze and no new positions will be created and some may not be filled if they become vacant. During these times I think the Human Resource frame is the first to view through. Teachers need to feel supported and heard. Leaders must listen to their staff and consider their needs. Many in the classroom have creative and innovative ideas that can help us through these difficult times.

  4. Jessica Ventris (Ferree)

    When I read out text, I find myself leaning the most towards the Human Resource context. I think spending time with and listening to the people that work for you is essential to successful organizations. I don’t think legislators spend enough time in our schools listening to want educators want or need. Funding continues to be an issue in Oklahoma and the issue was intensified during COVID. Once again, educators felt their hands were tied by mandates and it didn’t matter what they needed. They are tired and burnt out. I would love to see those running our state spend more time in our schools. Increasing technology and different learning models is important right now but funding is needed.

    • Katie Quillin

      I agree, Jessica. I also lean more towards the Human Resource context. I think having that transparency and our staff seeing us include them in the conversation is what makes great leaders. I think legislature could take a step in this world and understand that each person in the overall process is important and is what makes it work. I don’t think they always use the right judgement in their decisions about funding or any other idea when it comes to education.

  5. Jayden Dobbs

    How has the external factor of your state’s “economic conditions” effected student learning in your school system?

    My principal and I just had a conversation about the high behavioral issues that we have been saying lately correlating to our current economic conditions. We came to the conclusion that the high anxiety that comes with the gas prices and inflation that were seeing is trickling down from parents to students. Everyone seems to be stressed over the external factors of inflation and it could lead to the inconsistent behavior our school has been seeing from students.

    How has economic conditions effected your school’s activities? Its outputs? Its outcomes?

    In our most previous professional development day, a topic of deliberation was pay for our summer coaches in our strength and conditioning program. We discussed financial needs to upgrade our facility in order to better accommodate for the amount of students that we see. This open platform became argumentative between leaders and colleagues due to the limitations of our current budget. The output from this deliberation was that our coaches wouldn’t see as much in their summer stipends this year but instead will be compensated on a hourly rate as our athletic budget does not call for an increase in stipends.

    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions?

    Another example of shortages in our budget is our new usage of donors choose. We have newly implemented a intramural softball organization which is going to be funded from strictly donations and not come out of our athletic budget. I believe that as an edupreneur, its vital to explore all options of budget limitations. I think that when a community has a strong support for our public school and our public school athletics that asking for donations to reach program goals is a successful way to reach such goals even under stressful economic conditions. I think that being an edupreneur also calls for seeing what other schools and leaders are using to reach their district goals. Seeing what works and what doesn’t work based on other school districts can help lessen the trial and error period and give leaders more options rather than barriers.

  6. Merredith Newman

    I think an external condition that school systems are struggling with is having to abide by mandates from legislators that have not recently been in a classroom. When reading about reframing change by Bolman and Deal (2021), they described the process the CEO of Ford Motor Company took to help the company move in the right direction. He had to look at the human resource aspect of the workers in order to improve morale and commitment. He did this by talking to the workers and being present in the facilities. If we had government officials that would take the time to visit and listen to teachers that are still in the field, they may realize what is truly going on in our educational systems in Oklahoma. Those closest to the students know what they need and also hear what parents want, but most of the time have their hands tied by state testing and other mandates.

  7. Bethany Knight

    In Oklahoma, much of the tax base is driven by the oil and gas industry. Thus, in the recent recession Oklahoma cut funds to many programs including education. It seemed that all progress towards funding education properly was lost. Schools were forced to run on a skeleton crew with minimal resources for extracurricular activities or instructional materials. Even as the market rebounded, the state did not show any sign of replenishing the lost funding. These factors led to a teacher walkout and distrust between educators and legislators.

    At the local level, this economic pinch is seen in a severe shortage of bus drivers, qualified teachers, and other support staff. Schools cannot afford to pay trained staff like bus drivers a competitive wage. The result is bus drivers are hired, but only stay long enough to complete the training before finding a higher paying job. The result is that coaches often drive to and from events. Often times coaches with a CDL are pulled from the classroom to drive for multiple different activities. This puts a serious strain on the quality of instruction that their students receive.

    Leadership today must be proactive when looking toward the future. We know that economy will ebb and flow. Change is the only guarantee. Thus, we need to budget accordingly. Being conservative even in times of plenty is critical to creating stability in the long run. We also must look for opportunities to supplement our resources that are not reliant on tax funds. Creating strong partnerships with community members and businesses can provide additional services without dipping into funding.

    • Bethany Knight

      While the walkout in 2018 flexed the political muscle of educators and represented a great symbolic victory, leaders that are able to utilize the structural and human resource frames will be able to maintain the momentum long term. During lean times, relying on the political and symbolic framing will unify and motivate people. (Bolman & Deal, 2021) Utilizing the newfound resources and commitment from the walkout will require a shift of perspective to the human resource and structural frames. This will provide the needed longevity required to maintain success for the future.

  8. Jesi Morrison-Young

    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions?

    I believe that in times like Oklahoma public education is currently experiencing, a leader has to prepare for the future. Right now, districts are still getting stimulus money as part of the pandemic recovery; leaders need to do what they can to use the funds to prepare for upcoming years where there may be far less money. I think to be a good leader, you have to have more than one leadership style. In Bolman and Deal GLOBE researchers identify several leadership styles, and all except the autonomous style seem beneficial to the organization.

    • Katie Quillin

      How has the external factor of your state’s “economic conditions” effected student learning in your school system?
      Although I don’t teach in a traditional K-12 setting, I do teach a grant program that promotes learning for Adult TANF participants. The economic conditions as of late (COVID related) have drastically changed our students learning. Not only did we have to adapt to a virtual or online option (which had never been done), but the drop in the number of students serve was a huge concern. Pre-Covid, we were able to accept 12 to 15 students. Since Covid, and the state allowing “Good Cause” meaning students can remain at home and not in an education component or work component, we have had less than five students at a time. Also because of the drop in students, we have had to change what and how we give lessons and workshops.
      How has economic conditions effected your school’s activities? Its outputs? Its outcomes?
      Again workshops, internships, and outcomes have all drastically changed. Previously, we would graduate an average of five to six students per physical year. Now we can barely keep five students in the classroom. With strict grant rules, it is even harder to get students through the program. Provisions had to be made due to the time constraints handed down from the grant. Less opportunities are available.
      As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions? We are working with our state agency and trying to find ways to gain more students back in the classroom. We are also partnering with local agencies to find those opportunities that are missed. We are inviting outside programs to help us develop better workshops for our students.

  9. Sydney Silva

    It has been very interesting to witness the financial effects of Covid-19 on our school system. At the elementary level, we could not fundraise this year, hire additional support staff, or allow visitors/parents in the building to help fill those gaps. These effects have definitely impacted student learning. Teachers are spread even more thin and with no funding coming into their classrooms, they are spending more of their own money to care for their students and provide supplies. More students are coming to school hungry and without the necessary supplies, making learning more difficult. To combat these obstacles, we have altered our focus. For example, we have emphasized our school’s backpack nutrition program and found other ways to provide for our kids, like donations from local businesses.

  10. Chad Bailey

    How can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions?
    My technology center receives its greatest revenue (approximately 87%) from ad valorem tax funding. The largest part of the remaining 13% does come from state funding. While that percentage is considerably lower than many public schools, a reduction in state funding does cause concern and conflict over limited financial resources. Nearly every year brings financial challenges associated with a reduction in property values or a new Governor with less appreciation for the CareerTech system and an eye on the dollars spent to fund it. Some years it can be both. Being able to handle financial fluctuations successfully is critical, no matter their cause or reason for being. According to the text, when resources become scarce, a human resource logic is the best fit. A highly unified school district that works together in the collaborative effort will be best suited to absorb and minimize the impacts of economic downturns. School leaders need the cooperation of all the school body’s members to survive tough times while minimizing their impact on student success.

  11. Malarie Cline

    Budget cuts for funding for education is nothing new, however, the pandemic has caused policymakers and analyst to be unsure of how to plan for the upcoming school year. We know there will be more severe challenges ahead to overcome. Due to a poor financial status, my school district has had to go through a RIF process and now technology is even questionable in the upcoming years. The school doesn’t know if they’ll be able to continue with 1:1 devices. My school is having to develop a new and cheaper way to track student progress due to not being able to afford the program we were using. As I’ve witnessed my mentor and other admins work through these times, it makes me think of what Bolman and Deal stated in the textbook, “They need multiple frames to survive.” As I reflect on the different frames and the processes that have taken place at my school, they have utilized each frame in different situations.

    Our school success will rely on the hard and devastating decisions our admins have made and will make. The RIF process was one of the hardest decisions for our admin. Some of the teachers that got let go were family friends, family, lifelong friends, etc… Being that we are in a small community it was hard for the admin to go through this. However, they have and are making decisions to ensure that this community has a school for students and to safeguard it’s financial status and get back on it’s feet.

  12. Stacey Goodwin

    Looking at a classroom as a system with various parts reminds me of Heifetz’s (1994) “going to the balcony” mentioned by Bolman and Deal (2017). As administrators, we need to be sure to consider the entire picture by taking time to see it from all perspectives. This view from above the problem allows us to pinpoint the problem or desired outcome so we can develop an appropriate action plan.

  13. Shareen Smith

    The external factors of economic downturns and state budget shortfalls that lead to cuts in education are frustrating for educators and educational leaders. It feels like we constantly have to fight for funding or to protect our funding. Prior to the walkout, I think many teachers were not regularly advocating for education with their legislators. Personally, I felt like education should not be political. But I realized when it comes to funding public education, everything is political. As Bolman and Deal (2017) state in the text “scarce resources and enduring differences put conflict at the center of day-to-day dynamics” (p. 184). State funding is limited and that scarcity creates competition. Bolman and Deal also say we cannot shy away from conflict. Educational leaders and teachers started building coalitions, negotiating, and advocating for a ‘seat at the table’ whether that was through the relationships they built with ‘agenda setters’ or by running for political office themselves after the walkout.

    Despite the fluctuations in funding, educational leaders must keep their focus on their goals and adjust the path to those goals as funding changes. When funding decreases, everyone in the school comes together to figure out how to continue to meet the needs of students and achieve the school vision. Understanding the community interest is always important but especially so when economic conditions are tough. Schools should build partnerships with the community and those partnerships can help supplement, whether through human resources or monetary resources, the economic cuts a school is enduring.

  14. Jessie Wright

    As the article mentions, an understanding of context is critical to successful planning and school operations. Additionally context can be important for decision-making and help determine how a leader goes about this process. Bolman and Deal (2017) support this idea through their use of varying frames to assess and promote change in an organization. Leaders select the appropriate frame to utilize in a given situation based upon the situation’s context. For example, what works well in a rural, single building school with a close knit faculty may not be appropriate for an urban school with eight different elementary sites. School leaders must work to deeply understand their school site, it’s culture, and the specific challenge being addressed, then match this with the appropriate frame or combination of frames. In turn, this versatility and understanding of context can promote successful school operations and effective leadership.

  15. kimberlymccallum

    Our principal keeps us very informed of the educational budget situation. He updates on a regular basis. Now he is telling us how much bleaker things look due to the Covid-19 situation. Knowing our staff, I feel the symbolic frame will be crucial in the recovery period to keep up morale. That will be an interesting situation for my school building as every administrator and leader is retiring this year. The new leader will have a challenge running with the current symbolic frame if s/he doesn’t look to some of those who have been in the building for a while.

  16. sraelawson

    Like many districts across Oklahoma, Bixby has encountered budget shortfalls. One way that Bixby has been able to not fall too far behind is due to the amazing community support. A group of community members started a campaign entitled Bridge the Gap. Bridge the Gap has worked tirelessly over the last several years to raise enough money to close the gap between what the school needs and the State offers. To date, Bridge the Gap has donated $535,000 to BPS. This extra funding is a tremendous help in helping BPS stay current with the demands of the 21 Century Classroom.

  17. jakethompson

    I have long been a proponent of online/distance learning, in which the student’s education can be facilitated whether they are in the classroom with the teacher or on the other side the world. There are too many quality online platforms that not only provide content but also track the student’s progress; additionally studies have shown that students using khan academy learn two times faster than in a traditional setting.

    As a parent, I watched my oldest son’s grades go from C’s and D’s before the COVID-19 school closure’s to A’s and one B. It could be argued that his teacher’s standards have been lowered in the wake of this chaos, but I don’t think that’s true. I think that most teachers teach the way they were taught, and the cycle has been repeating itself for generations with some tweaks here and there; but as a whole, it’s the same industrialized approach to education using smart boards and chrome books. In my son’s case, I think his grades have improved because he is able to knock out his assignments at his pace (1.5 hrs) and spend the rest of the day focusing on his individual interests (trumpet, and virtually landing a rocket on Mars).

    This current pandemic is a nightmare, there is no question about it; but it has also caused some dramatic paradigm shifts that could result in an all-around better way of doing life – education included.

  18. brockbr13

    As the current state of the nation has changed how we educate students at this time, it is important to see what gaps there are in our school community. Serving in a very large district allows for a lot of diversity among each school. One school may have many parents that hold a professional job and use technology daily. However, in our school community, not many parents have jobs and if they do they do not need technology skills. This has posed a huge burden on our teachers as we have moved to distance learning. Teachers are not only trying to connect students to technology but also helping parents to navigate a new world of technology for them. These are new roads for everyone involved.

    This is where I believe a symbolic framework is needed. The teachers, students and parents all need to be inspired. They feel overwhelmed and incompetent at times. They need a school leader who is willing to create a symbol and mantra to unite them during this time. This type of leader is necessary as we voyage into worlds unknown to our community.

  19. laurenstauffer

    Our state’s economic condition has a significant impact on public schools in Oklahoma. As oil prices plummet, the public schools’ budget decreases. Important programs that focus on engagement, learning, and social skills are cut because schools have to weigh which programs are the most important to the majority of the students the school district serves. For example, music and art programs will more than likely be cut over terminating a math or English teacher due to state standards and graduation requirements. Paying teachers to lead clubs and organizations, provide after or before school tutoring, and other stipend related activities would decrease causing our high need students to look elsewhere for support or not receive any support at all. Graduation rates have been tied to extracurricular activities. When those activities are cut, students may not be as motivated to do well in school diminishing their academic success.

    Even in a “good” year economically, schools have lacked proper funding to lower class sizes, hire and retain highly-qualified teachers, and provide schools with proper supplies like textbooks, student desks, and technological resources. The school districts have learned to adapt and do the best they can regardless of the monetary support it takes to optimize student achievement. For years, class sizes have been high because there is no money to hire more teachers within school districts and we all know that lower class sizes would enhance student success.

    Schools can be successful, regardless of the economy, by using the four leadership frames. Using the structural frame, leaders need to communicate with their staff concerning changes, clarify roles, and focus on the facts of what we have to work with to meet our goals. Using the human resource frame, leaders need to ensure their teachers have a voice in how to be successful. Leaders need to support and empower their staff, listen to their concerns, and encourage inclusion and participation. Using the political frame, school leaders need to advocate to the government about school funding. They also need to be able to delegate the money they do have to different departments successfully. The symbolic frame can be used to instill a sense of purpose and pride for the staff. Using rituals, ceremonies, and symbols, leaders can motivate employees by confirming school values and instilling a positive culture.

  20. Jason Riggs

    Having leaders and employing teachers with a growth mindset is more vital now than ever. The article mentions the various parts of the classroom. Due to economic features, the consistency and dependability of having these resources can vary. Recently, some teachers are trying to deliver the same service in a drastically different environment, with the same goals as before (if not more). Many educators across the world now are flexing their eduprenuer muscle as teachers adapt and deliver instruction in ways we haven’t before. The economy will continue to be a major factor as districts now must reassess how dollars are used as the needs of all students have the potential to shift without warning.

    Leading with a multi-frame lens is crucial in this unexpected landscape. Not only to adjust and adapt to unforeseen changes and trends, but also to reach the myriad of needs of your stakeholders and to communicate the vision effectively. A clearly communicated vision allows each system to articulate their individual mission in order to support the goals of the organization.

  21. hlaunius

    In Oklahoma we know how external factors can affect learning. When education budgets were cut and then over years never refunded to what they needed to be, we as teachers, and leaders had to become creative with what we had. We are now facing uncertainty again as our state’s economy takes another hit from the current pandemic, and oil crash. We are asking our selves what does this mean for us? Will we see more emergency certification? We already have large class sizes, will they become larger? This is a problem that we will have to wait to see what the new fiscal year brings and how deep the cuts will be before we can really say how this will affect student learning at Union. In the past we have always been able to rely on a great finance department that kept our classrooms and schools functioning and learning while our teachers kept rigor and expectation high.

    As an edupreneur, I will have to rely on the four frames to help me, as well as my department and our students to get through any economic changes coming. We have already shown how we can go from in classroom to distance learning quickly and I am confident that we will face any changes the future may bring. The current changes have brought anxiety and insecurity but through the frameworks we will make it through. The last section of our textbook provided many perspective on how we move forward. On a political side we will have to know that conflict will arise and provide an arena for negotiating differences. From a symbolic side, the Union Way will help get us through. The human resource perspective will get us through because as teachers I think all we know how to do is love. Love for our students, love for teaching, love for learning, and love for our colleagues. Then of course symbolically, its Union, we have the Union Way and those traditions, values, and symbols will bring our community together just as it always has.

    I think more important, our communities need to accept our loss and grieve. We have lost so much the last month that it is going to take time to recover and we will need to allow ourselves to grieve. It sounds odd to say grieving the loss of the school year, the chance to wish my students the best, and the opportunity to see my seniors walk across the stage, but it is a loss that will need to be grieved to avoid unnecessary cycles of unresolved loss.

  22. chanda1908

    As I think to how many teachers we are constantly losing on a yearly basis, the economy we are experiencing now is not going to help alleviate that problem. We always look to the number of positions we cut each year in teacher positions, but what about those other positions, like counselors, college/career advisors, etc? Right now, in my district, hiring is frozen and we are in need of filling a position within my office. Interviews have continued, but applicants have been informed of the situation Covid-19 places the district in. It will be really interesting, and daunting, to see how funding is affected and how it impacts our schools for the 2020-2021 school year.

    No matter what happens, it is our responsibility, as educators, to create the best possible learning environment for our students. Looking at this through a multi-frame lens,as leaders we should be able to be rational, emphasize the importance of community within the schools,be conduits of change, and provide vision and aspiration to those who need it the most.

  23. Sean McKinney

    As we attempt to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the public school system, it will be more important than ever to look at our current situation from a multiframe viewpoint. In a time of distance learning, school leaders will have to be innovative in analyzing the situation from a standpoint of the school family (human resource frame) as well as new structural elements that must be considered to help with social distancing (structural frame). In addition to this, leaders will need to consider how to develop a school culture that can withstand these difficult times to promote a sense of belonging and togetherness in this climate (symbolic frame). Is the way things have been done working, or do we need to make major infrastructural changes to modify our educational model to be more flexible and adaptable?

    This, in conjunction with the results of a catastrophic drop in oil prices might necessitate changes in our schools going into the 2020-2021 school year. A previous superintendent once told me that the public schools will typically see a roughly 3-month delay in an oil price fluctuation and the actual financial impact it will have on tax income to the schools. As a result, we may not see the full reality of this financial situation for the schools until July or August. I am very interested to see how our leaders choose to navigate the uncharted waters we are all heading into now that this situation is reaching is full potential.

  24. Amy Eikenberry

    The economic challenges are heavily apparent for education right NOW. COVID-19 has put a large strain on our economy and has created difficulties in many homes. This reading mentioned “understanding the goals of the system will help us to define the resources that are needed to achieve educational goals.” In my school district, I have actually watched our educational goals shift due to the different challenges that many families, including teachers, are facing. Distance learning became an immediate solution for education and therefore the goals needed to shift instantly to providing each family with a means to engage in instruction from home. In addition to that, a primary focus was training teachers on the ways that they will continue to teach from their computers and interact with students daily to continue to provide a quality education. It’s such an interesting time to observe and be a part of education in my opinion because we have gotten to see how the educational organizations respond to crisis, and how students, families, teachers, and administrators are still supported.
    Outside of COVID-19, the economy will always impact our public school funding. However the economy is not something I can generally change as an individual. As a school leader we will have the influence to create a school environment and organization that promotes success for students and teachers no matter the funding or economic hardships of the time. With a multiframe lens, teachers and administrators can use their strengths to support each other and build a culture in a school that works with whatever is provided to support students in their growth and achievement. I have become more aware of the frames that I tend to lean towards in leadership. I think this is important because it will help me to build a team around me that can bring diverse perspectives to the table and ensure that all needs are met and systems are effective in the school building.

  25. quinn

    I read a tweet @AustinChadwick “In Oklahoma…100% of the people I have seen who disagree with any re-opening of the economy does not have their financial livelihood at stake. And 100% of the people I have seen who agree with re-opening, absolutely have their financial livelihood at stake.”

    So for me that puts the whole economic turmoil into perspective. There are parents out there worried about their financial livelihood, and that is where I can step in as a teacher to help take the school stress off their plates with distance learning. Even when we get back into the classrooms we need to be aware there will still be families trying to recover from this pandemic economically. Which should be brought up by our administrators during our August back to school PD kickoff. We can really hone in as a staff and show how much the district cares about not only the students but their families as well. We need to all be on the same page coming out of this because it is going to take time to bounce back.

  26. edperryforeal

    My school has been losing allocations for teachers for some time. My principal is creative with budgeting, so she finds a way to use Title 1 funds to pay for nine teachers and staff in our school. However, this is money that should be used to drive technology, curriculum, and leadership in our school. The burden of creativity and innovation in administration, at least in my opinion, should not be choosing whether or not 36 students to a classroom is too many and what should be done to remedy the problem. Creativity should be used to facilitate student learning through a combination of the many different necessities mentioned in this blog, but instead is only focused on one aspect, a qualified teacher. On both a district and state level, it’s about time that decision makers realize that when it comes to education, just like nearly every other aspect of life, you get what you pay for. Fortunately for our school and district, my principal is able to “set goals and policies under conditions of uncertainty.” (Bolman and Deal, 310). It’s just unfortunate that the uncertainty comes from the system itself.

  27. Sam Allen

    Our state relies heavily on the oil business and many people in politics are backed by some of these oil companies and people. Yesterday oil went into the negative per barrel. This greatly affects our schools and students. Especially our district because most of our money to pay for teachers and personnel comes from the state and not local. This will affect use greatly. There is rainy day money out there to help with this but it won’t necessarily be going to education. Students are to go to school to become good and productive citizens of our society. It will be difficult to help these students to become productive citizens if we are lacking funding for them. We need the money for these students so that the students have the things that they need in order to be successful in school and learn the best that they can.

    All schools have had to look at their systems and rethink what they are doing. The structural frame has been redone because the objectives are different now for the students and teachers. The students aren’t doing any new work just review and the teachers are doing it either digitally or through paper packets.

    I feel like now we are using the symbolic frame more than ever. We are using this frame to show what it means to be a Wardog or your schools mascot. We keep using this over and over to say hey we will adapt and get through this together. We are in it together and we got this!

  28. Katy Horton

    As Oklahoma educators, we know exactly how economic conditions affect our school systems. We see it every day, across the state, that our funding and resources pale in comparison to other states. This has an impact on student performance when compared nationally and globally. Schools that can fundraise in their districts can provide additional resources that can add amazing value to a child’s education.

    However, despite fluctuating economic conditions, leaders can continue to build up a positive, caring, and academic environment fit for the 21st century. When looking at issues through a multiframe approach, leaders can navigate and creatively problem solve varying conditions to continue educating children for the world tomorrow. The biggest resource for children in school is a loving and caring teacher. If leaders build a team of diverse strengths where all four frames are in focus, school climate and culture will outweigh physical resources.

  29. tasheika

    The current economical strain has impacted our educational system in so many different ways. It is true that this is our new normal for some time to come. Now more than ever it is import that we take advantage of every opportunity to supply and inform our educators of the resources that are available to substain the quality of education that our organization has set forth to provide students. I have noticed that many roles are changing with in organizations: for example, younger teachers that are more up to speed with technology are making themselves available to more seasoned educators to help prepare for Distance education.In spite of the economical conditions, this is good for the structure and human resources of the organization. This builds relation ships and also compounds on the knowledge that is put into the collaboration of sometimes two totally different teaching styles.

    For many educators Distance education is un-chartered water when it come to preparing for your students. As an administrator, maintaining the mission and vision of the organization has to be maintained through insuring that educators are okay with this teaching style and producing sub-stainable information for students educational needs.

    So many students have been effected by this economical issue. It is imperative that organizations and educators are flexable and responsive to students issues and needs during this time. It is important to continue to encourage students. Not only students, but as an administrator… not forgetting that your educators also need you and the organization to be flexable and aware of their needs as employees and as human beings.

    I think this is a time were new rituals and or symbols will be built as COVID-19 spirals or the best efforts are put forth to gain control. Creating “the new normal” opposed to what “things have always been” will take a turn for more 21st century learning and leadership.

  30. vavh711

    Our state must diversify our income and one would think that after all of oil’s ebbs and flows Oklahomans have suffered through, our legislators would make a more concerted effort to create some type of stability. Because of what’s happening to the oil market, I fear the cuts that will face due to the budget shortfall. It’s hard to facilitate learning when there is not enough or no money to supply the needs of the classroom. This pandemic has shone a light on the many equity issues facing the students that shuffle in or log on to our classrooms, and the budget affects so much more than just schools. We need edupreneurs that are actively engaged in politics to help influence the need for proper school funding, while also coming up with ideas to generate income. I suppose this is much easier to critique than fix due to our multiple realities.

  31. gardner.julia

    As oil hits a negative price per barrel today, consideration of economic impact on public education in Oklahoma seem particularly urgent. Outputs for schools can be boiled down to statistics of test scores and graduation rates, but real success hinges on the ability of our students to contribute to the larger community as productive citizens. Each of these measures of student success will affected by cuts to school funding from the outside, deficits in family resources from quarantine measures on the inside, and most certainly mental health concerns for families and faculty.

    Systems thinking about this problem will require a multi-frame approach for school leaders. In some ways we have already been forced to rethink our systems as we attempt distance learning. Perhaps we can look at innovations from a structural perspective to give students access to technology resources. A consideration of the school “family” from the human resources frame with be important for social emotional and mental health. The political frame will be useful in considering how to distribute the scarce resources available in times of economic downturn, and now, more than ever, teachers, students, and families will need rituals and symbols to rally behind.

    • tasheika

      i agree with you. I keep talking with my educator buddies about how we are being pushed out of comfort zone and maximizing the use of all the resources we have in front of us.This will help us to maintain an ethical distance educational experience for learners.

  32. David Rogers

    Oklahoma’s economic state has had a major impact on educational funding. Low educational funding and teacher pay has made it hard to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. The best way to approach this is probably for educators and state leaders to work together to come up with a solution and to cut expenses. I know of many small schools that could possibly be consolidated to make one larger school. This could possibly be one solution to free up some additional funding for education in the state.

  33. Michael Davis

    Our school system are changing in such a way that if you are not incorporating technology into your classroom,you may get lost.Going forward we as teachers have to incorporate new technology or technology in general to our lessons.We have to be average or above average in technology to incorporate into our teaching.Teachers have to be flexible and we have to focus on reaching students where ever are.As teachers we must be open to change,and finding innovative ways to both deliver information and inspire students.

  34. Josh Encinas

    I agree with several comments above. I would also say that it is not just our state that is having issue funding their education system. Several states are not paying their teachers well, in comparison to their cost of living in that state. I believe it is more of a culture shift to public schools have have been demonized to be seen as just a check the block type of activity. As an educator, I know it is way more then just that. Students not only learn about subjects, but they also learn social skills, bits of wisdom, communication, work ethic, and many more. With more students turning to online programs, public school are starting to do the same. My district will finally start offering online school to a select amount of students.

  35. Angela Parks

    The economics of our state has taken a toll on educational funding in many areas such as facilities, student resources, and teacher pay. It has also damaged the public’s attitude toward school systems and teachers. The lack of support has contributed to a decline in student enrollment in education programs at our universities. Also, teachers are leaving the state to teach in other states that pay higher salaries or they are going into other professions. School systems and site administrators have retained many teachers due to the strong culture and caring nature within the district or school even though they are unable to reward teachers financially. In Bolman and Deal’s book Reframing Organizations, they describe the human resource leaders in reframing ethics as an extended family which may help when it comes to retaining teachers at a local level.

  36. Stacia L Roberts

    How has the external factor of your state’s “economic conditions” effected student learning in your school system?

    The book talks about using lenses to look at things and sometimes we need to look through multiple lenses and other a single lens in order to move forward in our education system. Looking through all lenses, our state’s “economic conditions” when it comes to our educational system is in big trouble. As other’s have stated, Oklahoma teacher pay effects our students learning environment. Class sizes, non-certified teachers, teachers with no teaching education, not having the “needs” (books, paper, crayons, pencils) for our students, along with not being paid well or respected by others, has all lead to poor student learning. It is hard to teach when you don’t have the resources or skills needed to handle the day to day issues that arise in a school system. The first year I was at the High School, the principal told me he did not hire fresh teachers right out of school that they needed to get some experience first. The next year, he told me he was not hiring non-certified teachers. The last year I was there, he told me he had no choice, but to hire non-certified teachers. “Economic conditions” has a drastic effect on our educational system and has a direct effect on our students. People need to realize that the students in today’s educational system are the ones who will be running the world at some point. Do we not want to provide the next generation with the best possible educational system we can, whatever that takes?

  37. Emmie Robertson

    Oklahoma’s economic conditions have had a tragic impact on school systems across the state. These problems that occur at the state level trickle down into the small schools on the community level. Not only are the conditions in the school buildings beginning to fail, but they are also causing problems with keeping well qualified teachers and educators in the buildings and systems. The poor teacher pay has caused many teachers to leave the profession and not look back, this forcing administrators to find anyone they can to fill those vacant positions, which can in turn have poor effects on the students.

  38. Marci White

    Our state’s economic conditions has a tremendous impact on what we are able to accomplish at a classroom, site, and district level. While some districts are doing better than others at hiring and retaining qualified educators (and we all should take lessons from these models), state wide we are at a crisis level for loss of educators, resources, and funding. Administrators are desperate to staff classrooms with almost anyone, qualified, or not so much, and the climate of the building and the overall impact on student learning is greatly suffering. When the educational climate is as such, the educational organizations must constantly reframe in an effort to meet the needs of the evolving educational climate.

  39. Ali Saied

    The Economic Conditions in Oklahoma really show within our school buildings, they are ran down not enough desk, books etc for our growing student body. As our sites continue to grow they are bursting at the seams, but with the economic condition Tulsa Public is constantly having to shut down schools and consolidate them. This puts a strain on parents who have to drive furtur or find transportation for their student because their neighboorhood school got shut down due to lack of funds. With our growing student body this means more teachers, but we are searcing for teacher still and we have 4 weeks left of the school year. Tecahers are leaving the classroom and not returning because the low pay and the teaching conditions. Teachers who stay are having to take over more responibility and get paid the same.. Something has to chnage with the economic conditions.

  40. Keith Ooten

    Diverse systems have multiple effects in a school’s culture and output toward student achievement and growth. This also determines staff mood and organizational shifts. If we look at the consistent ever-changing environment in the schools, it is easy to establish the lack of resources and overcrowding of classrooms. So how do we address, internally and externally, these issues while maintaining positive school functions and relationships with students, parents, and staff? The answer may lye in the approach to these issues. We must be open to shifting our focus from one thing to another during the school year. As conflicts arise, internal and external pressures frame various approaches to situations, re framing the organization and creating a new consistent way forward. As the book states, multiple lenses are needed at times, and at other times one lens may be the way forward. Situational results create new avenues and roads that will be crossed later down the line and as such the organizational vision and mission comes vitally into play.

  41. Keith Ooten

    Diverse systems have multiple effects in a school’s culture and output toward student achievement and growth. This also determines staff mood and organizational shifts. If we look at the consistent ever-changing environment in the schools, it is easy to establish the lack of resources and overcrowding of classrooms. So how do we address, internally and externally, these issues while maintaining positive school functions and relationships with students, parents, and staff? The answer may lye in the approach to these issues. We must be open to shifting our focus from one thing to another during the school year. As conflicts arise, internal and external pressures frame various approaches to situations, re framing the organization and creating a new consistent way forward. As the book states, multiple lenses are needed at times, and at other times one lens may be the way forward. Situational results create new avenues and roads that will be crossed later down the line and as such the organizational vision and mission comes vitally into play.

  42. Morgan Sharpton

    The state’s “economic conditions” have mainly influenced the facilities in which my students are being taught. We are overgrowing our buildings, but cannot hire enough teachers to fill classrooms. We are overcrowding classrooms and not providing enough resources (tools, training, coaching, etc) to maintain highly qualified educators.
    Reframing of the educational organization is fast paced and fluid. Educational leaders are constantly changing the frame in which they are making decisions, handling conflicts, and approaching its members (staff, community, students).

  43. Caitriona Harris

    Appreciation/Gratitude within all levels of the school community is powerful as fixed mindsets about what CAN/WILL change on campus is explored.

  44. Dina McClellan

    The current”educational funding” situation in Oklahoma has been on-going for the past decade. The state has cut funding by approximately 26%. School systems have had to find ways to deal with these cuts and maintain a balanced budget.
    My district has been affected by these cuts and our administrators have done an amazing job trimming items that don’t directly impact students in the classroom.
    The biggest takeaway from my school system is that from the top down that they encourage us and believe in us. In spite of the cuts that have been made, teachers are still appreciated by the leaders.

  45. Brielle Smith

    This is such a hard time in Oklahoma education. The walkout was so powerful and encouraging. I think it is just what teachers needed. WE are overwork and underpaid, our schools lose more and more funding each year. What a good administrator would do is keep moral up and encourage their teachers to be creative. This is an opportunity for teachers to stretch and grow. To make a dollar stretch. To use unconventional ways to teach. This gives the school the opportunity to share what ways they are being creative, who is going the extra mile to make the most of the situation they are in. For example my administrator called a faculty meeting about half way through the year and gave us homework to explore twitter, make an account, and find all the free resources that are available. I think reframing make a ton of sense hear, reframing the way the school functions in a different environment, and how to get by when there is no funding.

  46. Jacklyn Henley

    Here in Oklahoma, I have definitely seen the effect of our state’s economic problems on students’ learning. Children are not being provided with textbooks, arts are being done away with, classrooms are not adequately supplied, and teachers are not paid enough to keep teaching in Oklahoma.

    Some schools have had to decrease their use of school buses for extracurricular activities and field trips, some have cut art programs, drama programs, and others.

    I would provide a resource room that is stocked with more than just pipe cleaners and construction paper. I would put research articles, books, activity materials, tables and chairs, interactive bulletin boards. Teachers need these things in order to provide quality education to their students.

  47. Steve N

    Effective School systems must embrace change positively and find solutions to the conflicts plaguing our mission and vision. The external and internal factors should not impact our resolve in cultivating innovative ways in a challenging economic society. Structural realignment is the need for involvement & training where we will not ensure success without existing roles and relationships are realigned to fit the new initiative (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p 372).

  48. doug.ruffner

    Diverse systems will certainly add challenges to being an administrator; specifically, financial systems, curricular systems, human resource systems, et cetera. The most important part of being an educator, however, are those external conditions, those external pressures, that create the challenges that we, as administrator,s need to resolve in ways that allow our students and staff to reach their full potential. There will never be enough money to do all of the professional development that will allow our teachers to shine. Heck, there may not be enough money to even have proper curriculum materials for our students.But caring about our staff and our students, the struggles they have both at school and at home, the daily issues that we must resolve for them to be successful, those are the real issues. Many times I have experienced a changed attitude or behaviour from showing that I authentically care for a student or faculty member as a real, flesh, and blood human being. That caring and love can ease the shortcomings of external conditions and allow each of us to be successful.

  49. Susie Buser

    The lack of state funding has decreased the number of adults in our building. We have lost positions(aka people)that interact directly with students on a regular basis. Class size has also increased. Teachers spend their own money on materials and supplies. Isn’t this what we hear over and over again from the majority of educators?
    I believe and John Hattie’s research has proven that the outside influences that teachers so often cite as having a negative impact on student performance really don’t have as great of impact as we think (https://youtu.be/rzwJXUieD0U). Hattie ranked 200 items that impacted student achievement. The following is a list of just a few of the items:
    Lack of sleep 191
    Whole Language 184
    Gender 174
    Problem Based Learning 168
    Web Based Learning 163
    Class size. 147
    Individualized instruction 143
    Finances. 141
    Computers in math 117
    Individualized feedback on teacher effectiveness 4
    Acknowledging errors 3
    What students knows and working toward specific learning goals. 2
    Teachers working together as evaluators of their impact 1
    Remember that the higher the ranking the less effect on student achievement.
    While I realize this information may seem a little off topic it provides us (educational leaders) with a clear picture of what our focus needs to be to create a system where all students can succeed. Regardless of the financial impacts, we have the ability to utilize the resources available to us and operate from the human resource frame to grow tomorrow’s leaders. Bolman and Deal summarize the 4 frames that we have been studying on page 300-301. If you look at the HR frame you will see that it focuses on promoting participation, feedback for individual growth and improvement, conflict is used to develop relationships, exchanging information, and self actualization are a few of the characteristics of the human frame. I think that those characteristics align nicely with what Hattie’s research has proven to be effective practices.
    As a future educational leader I want to always remember that kids are going to learn even if there is a monkey at the front of the classroom but great learning is going to happen when teachers are expected to understand that they really only need to be able to answer 4 critical questions to be effective practitioners: what is it we want students to learn, how will we know when they have learned it, what will we do when they haven’t learned it, and what will we do when they have it(http://www.allthingsplc.info/mobile/blog/view/305/learning-in-a-plc-student-by-student-target-by-target).

  50. susan

    Bolman & Deal (2017) talk about reflection and reframing during a time of crisis. Reframing our approach to education has become a necessity: consolidation of schools and personnel are suggested economic approaches in dealing with diminished resources. It is time to reflect on possibilities and how different approaches might fit into the purpose and goal of educational systems.
    Educational purpose is to enhance student learning, goals are more specific and vary based upon internal and external influences. Principal King, Chapter 20, reflects and sees the “picture coming into focus” (p. 414). As he reflects, he begins with a plan, an agenda and symbols.
    One Oklahoma educational symbol is about student caring; an overarching theme was students’ well-being as educators marched at the capitol. As economic sources are reduced, teachers struggle to fill the role of nurturer as schools are forced to reduce extra-curricular activities and electives that expand exposure to different cultural influences. School days are reduced, further impacting children in lower socio-economic circumstances.
    As we struggle to provide excellence and diversity in education, we need a plan to prioritize needs. Ironically, money allotted to student testing attributed to reduced curriculum depth and student engagement while removing funds that could have been used to supplement both curriculum and engagement, in addition to building and employment funds. Many tests have ceased, particularly subject end of instruction tests; perhaps remaining tests should also be examined for assessment value, and be prioritized based upon their value.
    Today’s economic crisis may open paths to relationships between communities and schools. By re-framing economic needs and joining hands with communities, schools may be able to continue academic excellence as students move from the classroom into community educational sites: museums, community theater, libraries, and local historical sites. Special workshops for class credit could be built around curriculum designed to meet targeted outcomes/objectives. Technology use has increased to allow for continued class time on snow days: perhaps an extension of technology could extend a four day school week into a five day school week.

  51. Kelsee Dyess

    As an educational leader, it is essential to recognize the systems that effect the instructional environment. The systems that comprise a classroom aid in cultivating student learning. However, it is crucial for an educational leader to embody innovative thinking and creative problem solving to ensure that one does not use diminishing “systems” as an excuse. The current funding of our education system has created hardships for many schools, teachers and students. As the educational leader, it is essential to align one’s decision-making in a manner that is innovative and inventive. If one is able to do so, the loss of “systems” will be less detrimental to the learning environment. I believe teachers are the most integral “system”, therefore, if a leader pours into one’s teachers, the learning environment will be nurtured. One must support teachers, cultivate professional development, and lead in an inspirational manner.

  52. panchoo

    I like “effective leaders understand efficiencies that can be accomplished by matching resources, activities, outputs and outcomes and by considering external forces that influence student learning” but more powerful is “community context including community interests, needs, resources, and economic conditions may influence the outcomes of our organization and might influence the goals of the organization, resources available, and the types of activities that we employ to reach educational goals”. The community context influences both the goals AND the outcomes. The biggest impact of the states economic conditions resulting in mass de-funding of education in particular, is the reduction of highly-qualified educators in classrooms. The exodus of teachers from the profession (not necessarily the state) is the highest its ever been (Tulsa Public Schools lost 1000 year 1-4 teachers in 2017. Through exit interviews we learned the reason was not teacher pay but lack of supports – socio-emotional in particular. My site has not seen a difference in academic achievement or growth (we have remained constant at 30% proficiency in Math and Reading) over the last seven years. As an edupreneur, providing opportunities for engagement with technology, and diverse experiences will impact student and community mindsets, however access to sources of funding outside of traditional ones, has not been successful. We continue on though, using every opportunity to network with community stakeholders, especially philanthropic donors.

  53. Jennifer Ochwo

    Traditional schools do not like systematic change. However, the needs of the communities and schools today are ever changing. Too often administrators and school leaders are playing catch up instead of making changes to avoid problems later. Bolman and Deal say managers play “hot potato” and rely on their own observations and experiences but do not have time to think critically or seek advice from experts (2017).

  54. freemsa

    The key to a ‘systems’ approach is to make sure you understand the system in which you operate, and determine how your role fits within the system (and as a principal, you need to be aware of how potential hires, or returning teachers fit into the system). When combining this with entrepreneurism, it becomes easier to invest in the system, and to establish shared goals throughout the learning organization. Bolman and Deal (2017) state, “In a given situation, one lens may be more helpful than others. At a strategic crossroads, a rational process focused on gathering and analyzing information may be exactly what is needed. At other times, developing commitment or building a power base may be more critical. In times of great stress, decision processes may become a form of ritual that brings comfort and support. Choosing a frame to size things up or understanding others’ perspectives involves a combination of analysis, intuition, and artistry,” (p. 303). This relates to a systems approach in many ways. If you understand your role in the system, and the role of others, it becomes easier to allow the opportunity for discussions with colleuges, brain storming, and determining a plan of action towards ‘bettering’ the system. However, an entrepreneur, in my opinion has a vision and takes risks in order to achieve the potential. If there is a teacher in your building that does not invest in their personal growth, team relationships, and classroom, they are lacking the ‘entrepreneur’ mind set that is essential in order to carry out the growth/improvement that is necessary in their system. This is why professional development, PLCs, and team building are crucial for systems — especially useful PD that is geared toward reaching the shared goal.

    • freemsa

      FYI — This is Sarah Freeman

  55. Tamara Danley

    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions? In my current urban school I have not been a part of abundance of economic conditions at any time. As a consequence, we have to be innovative to achieve our goal to educate our students to the best of our ability. Personally, I believe we have to use the Human Resources frame to build good relationships and collaboration with teachers and administrators. United we can accomplish so much more and less negativity occurs. Additionally, we must bring our schools into the 21st century and use more technology. If we used a hybrid method of teaching, we might not be able to pay for all of the computers, but an innovative program can bring philanthropists, donors, and grants to fund technology. There are so many ways to be successful even in hard times. We know many Oklahomans don’t value education the way Edupreneurs value it, so we find our own way and keep up the good fight for funding.

  56. Jeremiah Gregory

    It is obvious a school administrator must remain politically aware in order to forecast the power of a school’s external forces and be able to prepare for any effects, either positive or negative, on a school system as time continues to pass. I think every teacher has felt the effect of the “economic conditions” created by our state legislature. Classrooms lack so many necessities for teaching. (The schools I taught at, however, still seemed to always find money for the athletics program. But I won’t start on that rant.)

    As a teacher with a system with poor economic conditions, I had to be more creative about finding resources for teaching kids, using free online resources, grants, sponsorships, and parent and community supports. My principal at my last school helped teachers in these endeavors, helping teachers to find a way to assess needs and start the process. This kind of leadership and administrative assistance is abolutely vital for teachers to be able to function in poor economic situations. Our school had extreme community support, so this helped our school to maintain important functions using community economic resources.

    These kinds of situations can result in conflict, particularly when teachers are vying for such scarce resources for curricular and extracurricular instruction. Boleman and Deal talk about this in the text materials. This conflict must be managed by leadership by limiting the idea of “winners and losers” (such as how athletics always seemed to win and academic extracurricular always seemed to lose) by balancing the scales. Such balance can help limit conflict.

  57. Kathryn Knowles

    This year has been a particularly difficult year for educators in Oklahoma as many of our teachers feel undervalued and overworked. As educational leaders we continually ask them to do more with less. This kind of environment can take a negative toll on a school’s climate and culture. As a principal, I have found the most important strategy I can use to help teachers through these difficult times is to help them refocus on their purpose. In effect, I ask them to reframe the way they look at things by offering others ways to see difficult issues. As Bolman & Deal (2017) state, “the art of reframing uses knowledge and intuition to read the flow and to find sensible and effective ways to channel the incoming tide.” In listening and communicating with each other as a staff, we have all learned to try and understand each other’s perspectives and support each other even when we disagree. By working with teachers to reframe difficult issues, they feel more empowered to make decisions that create positive effects for students and each other.

  58. Edward N. Smith

    From this post, I came away most interested in applying multiple-frames of reference to analyze and evaluate both external and internal conditions, especially as these relate to conflicts, especially conflicts that come from change. It seems, beyond subtly, that economic changes over the past decade or so have created a slow rising tidal wave in education. Boleman and Deal (2017) note that the reason changes create conflict arise from changes in control, in roles, losers and winners, and loss of meaning (383). Another important element, that especially exacerbates maters, arises from this matter of money—the more resources available, the more free organizations and leaders are with the purse strings. Conversely, when resources are scarce, the exchequer more carefully checks his balance records, leading to infighting within the organization (Boleman and Deal, 2017, 307). This, of course, creates substantial conflict.
    In my school system, Putnam City, this has created a number of interesting responses. Perhaps most important it the district’s response—rather than be constrained by economic conditions, the district has made exceptional efforts to establish the Putnam City Foundation. The Foundation provides resources such as grants and scholarships to students for college, teachers for continuing education, funds for fieldtrips, classroom expenses, etc. This allows teachers and students to continue to engage in enriching extracurricular activities, developing and showing fantastic projects and products. To be successful, however, the program requires a distinct community of support.
    Where economic conditions have most affected student-learning manifests in the increasing numbers of students receiving free and reduced lunches. With the volumes of research behind the unique and demanding needs of students in poverty, Putnam City has responded by creating robust food pantries in many of the schools to provide students with basic food and clothing needs. With these matters address, they and their families have one less thing to worry about, thereby freeing up energy for school. Though my personal time in the district is limited, it seems from my observations the district has done well to maintain their performance in the face of these circumstances.
    Putnam City has a number of important pieces in place to continue to grow despite economic challenges—yet there is always more to be done. A major element moving forward should include making efforts to help the incoming groups feel more of a part of the larger Putnam City community—not merely outsiders looking in. Through building a stronger community of old blood and new blood, the entire district will grow and strengthen through diversity of experiences.

    Boleman, L.G. and Deal, T.E. (2017). Reframing organizations. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

  59. Cherith Unruh

    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions?
    “Political leaders clarify what they want and what they can get. (Boleman & Deal, 2017). An edupreneur must have political leadership skills in order to amass scarce resources for the school system they are leading. I am a human resource leader, so using the political frame will push me outside of my comfort zone. However, knowing that I am advocating for my teachers and my students will be empowering. It will take a lot practice though.

  60. K Dalton

    “Life’s daily challenges rarely arrive clearly labeled or neatly packaged. Instead, they come upon us in a murky, turbulent and unrelenting flood. The art of reframing uses knowledge and intuition to read the flow and to find sensible and effective ways to channel the incoming tide.” (Bolman, Deal, 2017). Whether a teacher is working to balance multiple learner levels with curricular options, resource constraints and parent/administration expectations or a administrative leader attempting to juggle multiple stakeholder perspectives, resource realities and federal/state mandates, school personnel have their work cut out for them at multiple levels. The skill of reframing fits the needs well in that it encourages creativity and a multi-faceted approach to dealing with problems that can at time seem so overwhelming. Trusted mentor collaboration also brings fresh perspectives. One very wise Supervisor with whom I worked stated it this way: “At the end of the day, are you leaving it a little better than how you found it this morning?”. As we work though issues both internal and external to our systems, it’s important to realize that we are never going to get everything fixed. Such is the nature of the evolving system. There are always challenges. Reframing provides a methodology of putting one foot in front of the other, moving our systems down the road toward a better and brighter tomorrow, leaving them better than when we found them.

    • Susie Buser

      As a person who strives for perfection all the time, your post helped me to reframe my thinking…I may not have done everything perfectly today but I know that I worked hard at making our systems better and kids were enriched because of my effort.

  61. Kody Engle

    Innovation and the ability to adapt are key to success in the 21st-century classroom (Bolman and Deal, 2017). The more strategic the approach to this process of adaptative innovation, the more beneficial it proves to students and educators alike. The multiple frames that are discussed in depth throughout our course further exemplify the necessity to be willing and able to adapt as things shift in the educational arena. At the end of the day, one must understand the goals that are systematically established and what can be done to accomplish them in the most efficient way. This will greatly depend on clientele, faculty, and resources. Knowing what will be necessary for a successful environment will, in turn, solidify the inherent ability of the system to thrive in the pedagogical standards of the day.

  62. joshua.k.taylor

    Bolman and Deal (2017) state that managers face major problems because different people will see events from different perspectives and frames (P. 301-302). I have observed the problem with multiple realities in my classroom. I get the privilege of supervising large groups of students working together to achieve large goals and complete massive projects. Often, I am called in to help resolve conflicts. The vast majority of the time these conflicts are not relational but rather strategic. The students have multiple realities. They are seeing the situation through different frames. Therefore, the concept of multiple realities has been troubling to me, but this blog asserts that, “Understanding the ultimate goals of the system will help us to define the resources that are needed to achieve organizational goals.” This claim helps me resolve my role in managing people with multiple realities. My job is to remind them of the clear and well-defined goal. By refocusing on the goal, then these multiple realities can come into focus with a singular direction. The goal helps define the resources, the frame, and the solution.

  63. joshua.k.taylor

    Bolman and Deal (2017) state that one of the major problems that managers face is that organizations and people can see the same events from different frames, thus creating multiple realities (P. 301-302). This observation is troubling to me. I do get to manage a lot of students who are working together on massive projects, and I have seen this develop conflict. I frequently am stepping in to resolve the conflict. Bolman and Deal’s conclusion is that I am reconciling multiple realities. However, this blog allowed me to gain a clearer perspective on how managers can help with multiple realities: “Understanding the ultimate goals of the system will help us to define the resources that are needed to achieve organizational goals.” This is how managers can resolve the problems resulting from multiple realities. Managers get to refocus the team on clear goals that then help to define the resources, the frame, and the steps to achieve these clear goals.

  64. Tommie Grant

    “If goals are clear, technology well understood, and behavior reasonably predictable, the structural and human resource approaches are likely to apply. As ambiguity increases, the political and symbolic perspectives become more relevant (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p.304). This quote really drives home the impact of schools. When learning is purposeful and meaningful and effective classroom management practices are utilized, the teacher can focus on processes, procedures, and building relationships with students. When goals become foggy, chaos can ensue, which can trigger personal agendas and cause the educator to spend much of his/her time working to restore calm rather than on curricular activities.

  65. Nichole Bates

    The system approach when looking through the leadership aspect is important to acknowledge when reframing is occurring. A leadership must be aware of the system situation. What is available for teachers? What is causing conflicts in the classrooms? Many public school systems face the crisis of lack of funding to provide the resources for teachers. However, as a leader it is important to give teachers’ innovative opportunities to explore.This requires the leader to look through the four frames to create an educational environment for teachers to succeed in all aspects. “David King’s reflections help him see that is he far from helpless,” (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p. 481). It allows the leader begin a plan of action to begin the positive change to give the tools and resources teachers need to succeed. “Transition rituals, mourning the past, and celebrating the future help people let go of old attachments and embrace news ways of doing things,” (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p. 383).

  66. Gregory Smith

    As I think about a systems approach to learning in a school system, fluctuating spending impacts the learner in a concrete way. Lack of funding causes real problems in the classroom. Insulating the learner from these issues can be a challenge. Thinking of education as a system, however, allows for some creative solutions. This requires that educators be flexible with the resources available to them. Teachers need to focus on reaching the learner, where ever he or she may be. To help with that process, it is critical that educators are empowered to change strategy and find innovative ways to deliver material and inspire the learner (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p.381).

  67. ceck

    School systems are ever changing, especially with the usage of technology today, but there is not a one size fits all option. Each school system is different and provides its own uniqueness and challenges and this is important to remember as we consider reframing that school system. “Reframing, like management and leadership, is more art than science. Every artist brings a distinctive vision and produces unique works” (Bolman & Deal, 2017, p. 418). When we are put in a position of leadership within a school we need to remember why we are there, and have an understanding of the goals, values, and mission of the system, all while considering the students, teachers, and resources available to make the school system beneficial and successful.

  68. Rye Donohue

    I believe understanding a systems approach to our education ‘system’ is crucial in both leadership and overall progression. It is crucial to examine and study the interplay of systems of oppression and the system of education. The system was originally designed for white males to succeed, that being the original design it is evident the system has succeeded. If we look at education across lines of race, class and other ‘isms’ it is clear the system has failed and is still continuing to fail. Without urgency and rooted disruption of systems of oppression (i.e. systematic racism) it will be hard moving forward. The macro and micro system designs need to altered to a way that evens the playing field. Speaking out of personal experience, it is frustrating working in a marginalized community where in my micro-system (classroom) there is deep belief in student success and potential but the macro-system is clearly speaking a different rhetoric. The systems achievement gap and prison to pipeline mentality is a direct result of a failure of other systems as well as the education system. It is difficult to isolate macro systems and when you do rooted issues are hard to dismantle.

  69. aliseday1965

    You have described our public schools well. I do know a new system is needed which can come in the form of a different type of school. But so many kids will still be left in the broken system? However, I do believe there is hope. At the freshman level, we piloted a course successfully shifting the responsibility of a student’s education onto their own shoulders. Throughout the class we saw an increase hunger for learning, strengthened problem solving skills and more respectful behavior toward both other students and teachers alike. By making the paradigm shift, our overall system has the ability to be connected. Teachers now manage students who are life long learners. Because this spring board happens within a student it has a positive effective on everyone. It creates exponential growth for the entire global community.

  70. clsnyder-renfro

    How has the external factor of your state’s “economic conditions” effected student learning in your school system? We lost 10 teaching positions last year. This year in an effort to make sure all students are enrolled in the classes they need for graduation, if a teacher is certified in a subject then they are teaching it regardless of expertise.
    How has economic conditions effected your school’s activities? Its outputs? Its outcomes? Thankfully we are have a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. So we are still able to have enriching activities after school with transportation home. If we do not have a plan in place for next year, these activities will most likely disappear.
    As an edupreneur, how can your school be successful in spite of fluctuating economic conditions? Look for additional grants for enrichment, use all community, parental and social media resources available. Be creative with scheduling and use of online tools.

  71. melissayarbrough

    Why would you assume you would pay a teacher the minimum starting salary in Oklahoma? What if you wanted to provide a free education to your students? Would the $4000 and something dollars come from private donors or local, state, and federal funding? How do you fund your own salary as the edupreneur or are you expected to be the teacher as well?

    • Kathy Curry

      Hi, Melissa! You have posed some interesting questions!

      For your first question about paying a teacher the minimum starting salary, I’m not sure if I understand your question exactly. Are you wondering why a minimum is needed (so that teachers can be paid less) or why you would not pay above a minimum (so that teachers can be paid more)? I will throw in some ideas that could address either perspective. I believe that leaders need to consider student outcome goals and the market from which we are recruiting teachers. With the current teacher shortage in the State of Oklahoma, I believe that one would expect to have to pay at least a minimum starting salary in order to attract highly qualified teachers. What do you think?

      I did found, however, that there are many considerations that teachers make when choosing where to teach. For example, in my former experience in private schools, teachers were very interested in the culture and climate of the school in which they were seeking employment. At times when the school was not able to compete financially with surrounding school districts, teachers often expressed willingness to accept a slightly lower salary than they had previously been earning due to enhanced satisfaction of working in a less stressful environment or an environment that aligned with their personal values and belief systems. I do not personally, however, advocate for paying teachers less. Teachers are trained professionals, and paying them a competitive wage communicates respect and value. I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this important topic.

      Concerning your question about “what if you wanted to provide a free education to your students,” I think this opportunity is very attainable in the State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma laws allow funding for charter schools, and these schools are provided without extra cost to the student. Concerning private schools, I know of one new private school in Tulsa that is offering preK-4th grade education to its students at almost no cost. Funding from the school has come from foundation grants and charitable contributions. Of course, operating a school in this manner has placed the responsibility for fundraising on leaders, but I think there are opportunities to think creatively about how to offer these opportunities to students from a variety of backgrounds.

      Finally, concurring your question about funding your own salary as the edupreneur, it seems that you would need to consider the needs of the school and how those needs influence your role and responsibilities at the school. We, here at the Edupreneur Academy, believe that there is no “one-size-fits-all” model and that there are many possibilities that exist. For example, if the school is a micro school with one teacher and one classroom, the edupreneur could also serve as the teacher. However, once a school grows to employing several teachers in several classrooms, administrative responsibilities increase. Those factors would influence the salary structure of the organization. These are just my thoughts. I’m interested to hear what others think!


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