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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Where to, Next?

Where to, Next?

By Sheila Akinleye
Doctoral Student
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor

Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

Many of us have been there –with children who just won’t stop asking questions.  If your kids are anything like those of our respective families, then one of their favorite places for commentary, questioning, and even at times, cross-examination, is the car. They’ll want to know where we are going, what’s going to happen when we get there, and where we are going next, all in one breath.
            It dawned on us, that we as adults, who are oftentimes bigger renditions of our childhood selves, are little different from our children when it comes to seeking direction in the midst of uncertainty.  In our roles as leaders, just like anyone else, we have encountered situations in our professional careers where we began to wonder, “Where to, next?” …  “What move should I make?” … and “Where am I headed?”  
Wanting to keep our positions of leadership, ones of “Blissness as Usual” for as long as possible (ISU Ed. Leadershop, April 2, 2014), we seek comfort in knowing when to stay in our current roles, and then when, why, and under what conditions to move on (let alone “how”) professionally.  It is with this in mind that we began thinking about responding to these questions from the perspective of two important ideas, which can apply to the lives of other leaders as they consider new opportunities. Therefore, in the remainder of this article we investigate how self-direction and reflection, two important qualities for helping us become leaders, can assist in the discovery process of “Where to, next?”
Unlike the usual responses, including our logical appeals to patience and comfort in the unknown, which work about as well with the adults as they do to our children, this response requires the foresight and skill necessary to take calculated risks. We offer the following for your consideration:

“To know where we are going, we must know where we are.”

Our inquisitive children are known to ask good questions, such as, “How do you know where you’re going?”  An immediate and simplified response would be, “Because I know where I am and where I want to be.” This question is a great parallel for people who marvel at great leadership at work because the response given reveals the mind of a master at work.
The process of assessing where we are, upon which road we are traveling, and where to turn next, takes a good deal of effort for most.  Our best travelers are able to clearly define where one is in relation to where one wants to be, impacting how quickly one arrives at any destination.
For example, the standard route for most teachers desiring to become school leaders is to get an administrator’s license and begin shadowing an administrator at their schools or others’ schools. Yet, this isn’t the only pathway available to budding leaders desiring make a positive difference on behalf of children. Multiple opportunities present themselves.
Who will garner leadership opportunities the quickest -- most efficiently and effectively in whatever path is available?  It will be those who know where they are, of course.  Persons who are in places that allow them, no matter the circumstance, to leverage leadership traits and skills in whatever form (i.e. “to make things happen”) will be more apt to parlay their present circumstance to those of the next.  A case in point is the successful teacher leader who leverages skills and carries the clout of someone who “holds it down” in the classroom, walking the walk of one who inspires others to perform above their own expectations. No doubt those holding the keys to the next leadership opportunity will see such a person as more capable of exponentially expanding their immediate gifts in reaching students.

“To get to where we are going, the “who” we need to know is us.”

Leaders may be “found”; they may even be “created” in a sense, through careful coaching and leadership development.  Whether they are born is an ongoing debate.  That said, true leaders almost always share something in common, a presence, or as Jack Zenger of Forbes Magazine would call it, “self-awareness.”  Self-awareness involves knowing the effect we have on others around us, as well as knowing how we are being perceived, and even more importantly, using this information as a type of tool or instrument to get the job done.
Poor leaders often mistakenly believe they can travel where they want to go, focused on the job to get done, or even on others, before focusing on themselves.  By doing so, they inadvertently treat others as tools or instruments, when the more powerful tool, self-awareness, is working against them. This not only undermines their own successes, but also creates much unintentional inefficiency in their wake.
Viewing self-awareness from a different perspective, in their work, Beyond Drama: Transcending Energy Vampires, Dr. Nate Regier and Jeff King explain how to avoid the trap of the energy draining, dramatic theater that often happens in human relationships by adopting what they call, “The Compassion Triangle.”  Drawing upon the work of Steven Karpman, the authors define the three points of the compassion triangle as: persistence, resourcefulness, and openness.  Self-awareness, or having the presence of mind of a true leader, requires these same qualities.

            As a sage-like parent might respond to a child who asks, “Are we there yet?” leaders may be wise to encourage self-awareness in responding, “Does it appear that we are?” or maybe even one more reflective, “What does ‘there,’ look like?”


Zenger, J. (2014, April 17). The singular secret for a leader's success: self-awareness. Retrieved from

Regier, N., & King, J. (2013). Beyond drama: transcending energy vampires. Newton, KS: Next Element Consulting.


Sheila Akinleye and Ryan Donlan enjoy pondering how life and leadership intersect.   Their vantage points for the beginning of conversations often begin with themselves.  If you would like to contact either, please feel free to reach-out at or .

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Leadership's Responsibility in Effective Disciplinary Practices

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Leadership’s Responsibility in Effective Disciplinary Practices

By Jeremy Eltz
Doctoral Student
Indiana State University
STEM Coordinator
Indiana Department of Education
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski (2013) noted how out-of-school learning and engagement increases student success and reduces the dropout rate.  While they certainly make an excellent point that we must think about “doing school” a different way, they also inspire us to think in the inverse regarding a school’s obligation to provide quality, out-of-school experiences in order to make this happen.  One could argue that schools today provide out-of-school learning experiences, but rather through the use of suspensions and expulsions, as opposed to intentional curricular design. 
This is probably not new information for anyone; yet rather, a reason to make the case that our most bleak schools and communities need our most dynamic, effective, and highly trained, capable leaders, with a laser-like focus on continual engagement and student opportunity. Not only on kids’ best days, but on their not-so-best as well.
Last year Indianapolis held the distinct honor of having a higher murder rate than Chicago.  Many of these murders go unsolved because no witnesses care enough to come forward.  On June 16th, 2014, a murder trial took place for one of many defendants, amidst one of many victims, both African American boys on the east side of Indianapolis.  Something happened between the two boys; now, both families are irrevocably broken.  A child’s life outcome may very well be influenced by where he lived.  Had these two boys lived in Carmel, one could argue they may have been roommates in college instead of rival drug dealers. Education or community assets might have prevented a mother from burying her son and then testifying at the trial.  Education or community assets might have prevented another young man from spending the next 45 years of his life in a 5x8 cell.
Much pressure is placed upon school leaders to save their communities and ensure their students don’t end up becoming statistics.  To expect school leaders to change communities might be a tad unreasonable; however, expecting them to do what they are able to do, and control what they can control, is not.  One such example would be in school discipline.
School leaders determine the consequences for students when their behaviors become a distraction.  School leaders decide how long to put students out on the streets when suspended or expelled, or conversely to keep them inside.  School leaders decide whether or not to allow students a viable, powerful out-of-school teaching and learning curriculum, such as that shared by Washor and Mojkowski (2013).  In other words, school leaders deliver a curriculum either by what they offer to students facing school sanctions, or through what they don’t. 
Several reports have come out recently depicting the state of our nation’s schools. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013, research by Robers, Kemp, Rathbun, & Morgan (2014). They reported that in 2012, roughly 750,000 assaults and 31 violent deaths occurred in K-12 schools.  This report indicated that city schools had substantially higher rates of gang presence, classroom disorder, disrespect toward teachers, bullying, sexual harassment, and/or racial tension.  Black and Hispanic students still had the highest dropout rate at 7 and 14 percent respectively.  
From a financial perspective, it is cheaper to educate rather than to incarcerate.  The phrase, “school-to-prison pipeline” describes the all-too-common incidence of schools diverting students into the juvenile or corrections system. These schools are disproportionately urban schools in our largest school districts. NCES indicates the population of these schools is 38% Hispanic, 33% African American, 20% white, and 7% Asian (Robers et al., 2014).  Students are not graduating from high school to college, rather from the county jail to the state prison.
Typically, urban schools are staffed by well-meaning individuals, but those individuals are often culturally, racially, linguistically, etc. different from their students, which can strain communication and lead to personality conflicts.  In many cases, teachers simply do not understand their students, ethnically or culturally, and they do not live in the communities in which they teach.  Thus, the students in the most need of additional education and counseling typically are not well understood.  Consider the case of African American students, who represent 16% of the student population, yet account for 31% of school-related arrests (Robers et al., 2014). These students are also three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than Caucasian students, and students who are suspended or expelled are three times more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system.
We suggest that no silver bullet exists for effective discipline.  Yet, we do say, “School leaders, please take a note, that policies written by your district and enforced at the student level don’t always make sense or apply to the situation.”  It is more important to identify what factors culturally, socially, academically, and psychologically, lead this student to act this way. Sometimes the way we prescribe consequence is similar to a doctor treating the symptoms and not the cause, putting a Band-Aid on something malignant.
Such is the case with many exclusionary discipline practices that have been proven not to work. How could they work, when they lead to lost learning time and a lack of student intervention?  Across the country, 95% of suspensions are for non-violent offenses for things like tardiness, disrespect, disruptive behavior, profanity, and other seemingly trivial offenses (Robers et al., 2014).  One has to believe that a great deal of this boils down to poor communication between adults and students.
Our best school leaders know that every decision they make affects those around them and the future of our communities.  It is unfortunate that schools have to take much more responsibility for the well-being of children than the hours of enrollment per day would seem to necessitate, but that is the case, and our leaders have to be up to the challenge.
Our school leaders must even more effectively understand how current disciplinary practices and policies are leading to unintended educational outcomes for our most at-risk students – those that run counter to the principles upon what we wish our society to uphold.  With this in mind, can we find a way to honor the personalities and individuality of all students, and further, to connect with their caregivers and families in partnership?   
It’s not only important from a societal perspective, but it’s morally and ethically the right thing to do.


Robers, S., Kemp, J., Rathbun, A., & Morgan, R.E. (2014). Indicators of School Crime and
Safety: 2013. National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Washington, DC.  

Washor, E., & Mojkowski, C. (2013). Leaving to learn: How out-of-school learning increases student engagement and reduces dropout rates. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Jeremy Eltz and Ryan Donlan believe in the collective capacity of policymakers, statewide stewards, and local educators to make a positive difference in education on behalf of children, families, and communities.  They can be reached at or at

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Leadership is Not Always the Solution

Leadership is Not Always the Solution

By Steve Gruenert
Associate Professor and Department Chairperson
Eric Jackson II
PhD Student
David McGuire
PhD Student
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor

Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

Too often we hear pundits in K-12 education using leadership as the solution to any problem. “With strong leadership anything can be accomplished!” they proclaim.  The problem with this statement is that when something fails, it has become fashionable to blame leadership and move on, when other factors regarding the success or failure of schools are well in play.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines leadership (noun) a few different ways: The position of leading a group, organization, etc.; the time when a person leads; and/or when one has the power or ability to lead.
Leadership under all three definitions might only be good for leadership.  In schools, for example, it can only do so much.  To those who decry that leadership has the ability to “fix” K-12 education, we offer a few thoughts regarding potentially, a more accurate depiction of the breadth and depth of leadership’s influence.

Leadership does not necessarily fix bad teaching.  It cannot necessarily improve one’s learning, as leadership is not necessarily efficacious cross-contextually.  We cannot naturally apply leadership skills to other domains in our life and guarantee a high level of success; in fact, we may make things worse.  Think of the fact that if leadership is the act of getting others to do something they would not have done otherwise, then when sitting around with friends, the use of leadership would be more akin to manipulation. As leadership requires followers, wouldn’t we be subordinating our spouse or partner when we tried to lead in that context?

We can all remember being in elementary school, at the front of the line where we were called the leader.  In high school we may have been a captain of a varsity sport, president of a club, or just a leader in our circle of friends.  Those situations illustrate that leadership is what it is, and not too much more. Once we return from the elementary restroom, we’re back to being students.  Once off the field, we are simply teenagers once again.  When with other groups besides our small circle, we’re not necessarily the ones with any elevated status.

Yet, we cast leadership with a broad brushstroke and over-glorify its power to handle what society throws at us as educators.  We also lay blame to leaders when things don’t go well.  We fire the boss.  Poor leadership might not be the reason schools are failing.  It certainly is not the reason the bread won’t rise or why it rains … why we lose golf balls … why we get parking tickets … why the computer froze …  or why we can’t stay on a diet.  Some may try to make an indirect link to leadership for these phenomena; those are the people who call for the coach to be fired when the franchise president hired the players.

To them we say:  “Stop using leadership (or the lack of) as the reason bad things happen.  Stop the over-simplification of everything - as a result of one concept.”

When in an argument with friends, try using Fullan’s six steps, or slide into one of Bolman and Deal’s four frames when you are not catching fish.  I’m sure they’ll be inspired to take a bite.  The next time you need to help someone fix a flat tire, consider Johari’s Window. When someone’s punching you in the nose, “Seek first to understand,” as Covey might suggest …

Viewing the video Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement (see YouTube), we quickly discover that leadership is over-glorified. In this case, the video depicts one “lone nut” who is acting weird.  It takes a normal, second person – a follower who people respect – to take the leader’s message and make it useful - to create a movement.

The next time something goes wrong, try not to seek out a person or action related to leadership as the cause.  Instead, open your eyes and look around.  It is not strong leadership that prevents adversity.  Nor is it strong leadership that works through adversity; it is strong people.

Leadership is more of an opportunity than a person, more an event than a position.  The Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu once said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”  

This is not to say that leadership doesn’t have its place.  The next time you get a chance to lead something, do it.  After all, leadership can at times, provide someone upwardly mobile and opportunistic a bigger office, an increase in salary, and in some cases, less work.  At other times, leadership can allow us truly to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Yet, while leading, don’t over-estimate your impact, as leadership might only be good for leadership. It may just be a tool.  Some would even say that once the system is fixed, the tool could then go back into the toolbox, contrary to the typical message delivered at anyone’s next high-priced conference event.

In times of war, we hope to have strong leadership to get us through each battle.  However, if we had strong management, we would have never gone to war.


Steve Gruenert, Eric Jackson II, David McGuire, and Ryan Donlan all approach leadership from different perspectives, but what they do have in common is that they ALL approach leadership.  They’re also keenly interested in what you think about their Leadershop contributions this week, so please consider shouting out at,,, or 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Quantum Physics Can Teach Us About Leadership

What Quantum Physics Can Teach Us About Leadership

By Russ Simnick
Senior Director of State Advocacy
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Doctoral Student
Indiana State University
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

For decades, organizations have largely focused on selecting the right leaders with the right attributes who work optimally with others. They consider leadership to be the key factor in an organization’s success. 

Northouse (2012) and other contemporary leadership writers have encouraged us to consider the following theories upon which leadership selection has been based:

Trait Theory – Selecting those with the right attributes for the situation.
Skills Theory – Selecting those with the right skills with tasks, people, and concepts.
Style Theory – Selecting those with a democratic, autocratic, or laissez faire approach.
Situational Theory – Selecting those who can adapt to different circumstances.
Contingency Theory – Selecting those whose styles match given contexts.
Leader-Member Exchange Theory– Selecting those who facilitate reciprocity.

Even notions of Transactional Leadership, Transformational Leadership, and Servant Leadership include, by definition, notions of leaders’ pulling the right levers to get employees to perform. It’s an action/reaction type of thing.  We have long been taught that the proper motivation (or conversely, punishment), said differently … the perfect blend of sticks and carrots, will accomplish our goals.

However, if leadership, or even followership, can be reduced to a playbook, why hasn’t a single approach, or even a blend of the best approaches recorded, “cracked the code,” providing leaders with a playbook that works equally well in myriad settings?

We would contend it is become something else might be going on – and further, that the subject is far more complex, necessitating a deeper understanding of what is actually occurring in organizational dynamics.

Just as quantum physics revealed a new world not previously explainable by Newtonian explanations, perhaps a quantum view is called for to gain a deeper understanding of leadership in contemporary organizations – certainly in schools.

Those who suggest that organizational excellence can be attained through sticks and carrots, or even “fierce conversations” and “heightened accountability measures,” are living in the Newtonian world at best, and further, not seeing the entire picture.  In the real world, actions do not always produce their intended result, even when they make sense, as we would expect in a mechanical, cause-effect system. In our real world of K-12 education, the questions we ask toward the answers we need are still phrased in a mechanical paradigm.

Physicist David Bohm theorized an “enfolded” universe comprised of what we see and experience and an “unfolded” universe, a state of awareness or higher consciousness less discernable.  If Bohm is right, as we focus our efforts each day on no more than what we see and experience, the reality of what occurs professionally and personally is that our lives are impacted more by that which we can neither see nor fathom.

If this higher-order universal consciousness exists within and around us, what can we learn as educational leaders?

The first thing, of course, is that much of what we perceive that we’re doing to promote excellence might be, in fact, wrong.  The sad part is that we’re teaching it to others, as if it were reality.  In Blink, Gladwell notes that highly effective leaders do not know why they are effective, and often make a false attribution. This seems to indicate that even the best leaders have no idea what leads to their success.

Yet we teach it. 

We profess that it works. 

And we might not even have a clue, while being effective and in the short term, while beating the odds and receiving distinction as “models.”

Quantum physicist Dr. David Hawkins has leaned upon the pioneering work of Dr. George Goodheart and Dr. David Diamond in applying kinesiology to psychiatric studies. He has used kinesiology to “test” consciousness and postulates that all things are interconnected and that “truth” can be tested through kinesiology.

Hawkins has developed a scale that calibrates all thoughts and emotions; it then orders them on their inherent levels of goodness and truth (what he calls, consciousness). Further, Hawkins claims that goodness (things that calibrate high) wins over ideas, emotions, tactics or people that calibrate lower on his scale. In other words, goodness has power.  He explains this by contrasting leaders who use “power” (that which comes from higher consciousness) and those who use “force” (that which comes from imposing will on others).

Consider Mahatma Gandi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln on the one end of the continuum, and Adolph Hitler, Nero, and Idi Amin on the other.

Could it be, as Hawkins suggests, that all people and energy are interconnected and that leaders acting with good motivations will always find greater and more lasting success than those acting in the lower order?  He noted, “It is a scientific fact that what is good for you is good for me.”  This is a difficult concept to understand as we strive to value and cherish diversity in our world, organizations, and certainly our K-12 schools, where many perspectives are relativistic and one’s good often comes at the expense of another’s.  However, delving a bit deeper into the realm of quantum existence, there seems to be more potential for a universal “good.”

It might very well be that our best K-12 leaders who invite in others a higher level of performance than they are capable of on their own, are motivated by higher-order good and further, their results are greater and will be longer-lasting than those in the mainstream who act as follows:

Leaders who use force to impose will (i.e. “Pass the test, or you’ll receive a failing grade and may need to go to summer school”);

Leaders who pass along the force that is being thrust upon them (i.e. “If your children do not pass the test, your job may be in jeopardy”).

History is replete with examples of powerful leaders and nations who acted against the interests of humanity. They rarely succeed. However, those such as Gandhi and Jesus who acted on behalf of the good of all mankind are (and will be) remembered for all of time.

For whom do we act on behalf of with our current focus in education?

To date, countless studies have tried to show a cause-and-effect theory to explain effective leadership. While they may sell many books, none has served as a complete explanation, let alone adequate, for cross-contextual circumstances that confront us in K-12 education each day.

Possibly, we are looking in the wrong place and should start looking to Bohm’s unfolded universe and, as Hawkins would advise, begin tapping into a consciousness that is ever-present in order to be truly transformative.


Bohm, D. (1982). The Holographic Paradigm: Interview by Ken Walker.

Gladwell, M. (2005). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. New York, NY: Back Bay Books. 

Hawkins, D. (2012). Power vs. Force. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.

Northouse, P. (2012). Introduction to leadership: Concepts and practices (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.


Russ Simnick and Ryan Donlan enjoy deep conversations that involve turning-their-minds.  They encourage comment and feedback and can be reached at  or at 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

From Ph.D. to Practice: Applying Coursework to Our Leadership

From Ph.D. to Practice
Applying Coursework to Our Leadership

By Whitney Newton
Doctoral Student
Indiana State University
Ryan Donlan
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership
Bayh College of Education
Indiana State University

            We understand that at times, when folks share that they are working on doctoral degrees, the response received is often one of practitioner-based skepticism.  Folks wonder if doctoral students are able to keep their feet on the ground while reaching for the stars – interpreted, “Is this learning ‘at-all’ practical?” 
We cannot answer this for every terminal degree program; however, in the Department of Educational Leadership of the Bayh College of Education at Indiana State University, as students and faculty, we certainly know the focus:  Those working each day to make a difference for the children, families, and communities.   We are focused on the needs of practitioners.
            In keeping this in mind, what we try to do is to partner as co-learners in both one’s art (Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind), as well as one’s science (Kahler’s Process Communication Model).  In this week’s five-minute read, we’ll demonstrate how we apply Ph.D. coursework to our leadership through a first-person account of the learning that has taken place over the summer, as well as the reflection that will help support an even better launch this fall.  We hope, in part, that this will encourage you toward future educational pursuits, wherever they may lie. 

Whitney’s Reflections on Coursework

Hiring season is in full swing for many schools. At my urban middle school in Indianapolis, we have a more complete picture of our student body and school landscape from the district, as well as from our teachers, where those who have decided to move on have made it official.

I work in a school where hiring is considered the most important job of the leadership team after supporting our current staff in meeting students’ needs.  We interview and decide as a team, with consensus decision-making, and maybe more intuition than we’d like to admit, driving each interview.  We look for a few characteristics during our hiring process, including clearly seeing and hearing a passion for kids, hearing each candidate’s own passions – whatever they are, a collaborative spirit, confidence, and the ability to role play a courageous conversation.  

More than we likely understand, we believe we are selecting people for their talents like Buckingham and Coffman (1999) describe, whose “filter(s) and the recurring patterns of behavior [they] create” we can capitalize on as new members of our team (p. 82). We believe we are hiring the best, fitting them into the role that is the best fit for their unique talents, holding them to high expectations as part of our organization, then getting to watch them soar.  I am wondering, though, whether we could be doing more to capitalize on the diversity of our current staff, and whether we could be asking better questions during our hiring process – both of our candidates and of ourselves.

As I dive deeper into my learning and understanding of Taibi Kahler’s Process Communication Model (PCM), I am thinking through how to apply what I have learned in the ISU Ph.D. program to the work I do at my school, especially in the area of hiring, and I am thinking hard about what questions to ask next. Particularly, “How should I bring all of this information to my team so that it can inform our team dynamics, impact our hiring process, and impact our teaming/training of teachers?” More questions include the following:

How do we bring this to our teachers, so that it can impact the work they do with our students?

Should the leadership team take Kahler’s Personality Pattern Inventory?

Should we ask the whole staff to take the inventory? Maybe just new hires?

Should we do some professional development on Kahler’s approach to human interaction?

Do we work to put together diverse teams of teachers, or is the real question orbiting around how we teach our teachers the “process” of communicating with our students, especially those whose personality energies (and thus, communication preferences) look different than ours? 

In “Process” in Building Cultural Community (2014), Dr. Ryan Donlan and Dr. Michael Gilbert suggested that, though more research needs to be done, awareness of the Process Education Model (another application of the PCM) among educators and school leaders leads to more effective communication and “expand(ed)…understanding of diversity (p. 193).  

Donlan and Gilbert summarized that the Process Education Model “has provided educators a deepened understanding of a more inclusive world, inviting us to see and understand the differences in others so that we can interact successfully. It has allowed educators and leaders to utilize others’ frames of preferences to enhance the how of communication” (p. 194).

This makes a pretty strong case for our leadership team’s developing a deep understanding of Kahler’s PCM in order to impact our capacity to work with the diverse teacher and student populations in our building.  Ultimately, it certainly makes the case that teaching our teachers about PCM and developing their understanding of how to communicate with diverse students would be an extremely wise investment.
Buckingham and Coffman (1999) described the importance of looking at “the total work environment into which this person must fit” (p. 101) when selecting a new member of the team.  We can ask ourselves, “What are the talents of the other members of our team?” and “What talents are missing?” Applying this to PCM makes the case for trying to build diverse teams of teachers, whose condominiums compliment, rather than replicate, each other.

I am not sure I have any answers to the questions I am asking my team and myself about how to strengthen our hiring processes.  The fog will likely clear some as I begin trickling information about what I have learned in ISU’s Ph.D. program into our team meetings, as well as when I hear further the diverse opinions and perspectives from my team members.  What I know for sure is that in every interview from here on, alongside my dutiful notes on each candidate for our team discussions, will be a tiny “PCM Condominium,” predicting each candidate’s Process Communication Model (PCM) personality energy arrangement.


Hopefully these reflections have stimulated some thinking in you, offering some “science to your art” – about hiring, teaming, or another topic deeply impacting your practice as you begin a new school year.  We very much hope, as well, that you will feel inspired to pursue other readings or research from graduate study or that which you can use as material for reflection to guide your practice.  

As leaders and life-long learners, we know reflecting is an important part of our process of making a difference on behalf of faculty, staff, students, and community. What questions and reflections do you have as we wind down the summer and begin another new year?


Buckingham, M., & Coffman, C. (1999). The First Key: Select for Talent. First, break all the rules: what the world's greatest managers do differently. New York, NY.: Simon & Schuster.

Donlan, R., & Gilbert, M. (2014) "Process" In Building Cultural Community. Building cultural community through global educational leadership, 183-196.


Whitney Newton and Ryan Donlan are deeply committed to taking education from where it is to a better place.  Whitney is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership in an Indianapolis-based cohort, nearing her last semester of coursework in preparation for her Preliminary Exams and Dissertation.  Ryan Donlan is a faculty member in this program teaching human relations, advanced theory, and research.  They can be reached at or at