Kim Marshall: A Conversation about Innovation, Leadership and Teaching Quality

Erik EllefsenInnovation

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Recently, I began to reach out to friends and mentors to help me think through leadership, innovation, and educational issues that continue to provide me great passion for the work I get to do within our profession. My first attempt at this sort of recorded blog was with Rex Miller on Leadership and MindShift, and I hope to share more about what I’ve learned from these friends in the coming months.

After I spoke with Rex about leadership and innovation; I happened to be reading a book by Laszlo Bock entitled “Work Rules!” which happens to be about his leadership of Google’s people functions. In it he quotes Dr. Elaine Pulakos regarding performance management where she says:

[a] significant part of the problem is that performance management has been reduced to prescribed, often discrete steps within formal administrative systems….Although formal performance management systems are intended to drive…the day-to-day activities of communicating ongoing expectations, setting short-term objectives, and giving continual guidance…these behaviors seem to have become largely disconnected from the formal systems.

That same week I met with a school leader who was struggling to craft a faculty culture of growth and professionalism and asked me if he should implement Kim Marshall’s system of evaluation, mini-observations, and rubric of professional quality as laid out in his book Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation. My concern was that rather than using Marshall’s innovative approach to creating a culture of professional quality that any attempt would become a bureaucratic initiative with little impact. So, I decided to reach out to Kim who was a professional mentor to me while I implemented many of his ideas at schools in Boston and Chicago, and who was easily the best Education professor I’ve been able to learn from.

Kim Marshall: 3 Questions on Evaluation, Performance and Professional Quality

By now most professional educators know who Kim Marshall is because of his innovative mini-observations and popular weekly Marshall Memo, which every educator should subscribe to. But he has also been a lifetime educator, school leader, and father of educators; therefore I decided to reach out to ask him the following questions:

  1. You were an innovator of “mini-observations” nearly 25 years ago, and I’ve personally seen the popularity of these take-off. What have you learned in the past few years about this innovative approach as it becomes more widely used?
  2. How did the creation and use of the rubrics for the evaluation system create a shared understanding in your school and other schools you’ve worked with?
  3. As an innovator who has crafted a significant knowledge base of professional research with the “Marshall Memo”, what do you get excited about for the future of our profession and schools?

In our emails back and forth he prompted me for more, so what was originally set for 3 questions and 15 minutes turned into a conversation that covers a number of topics and nearly 40 minutes. I hope you’ll gain a bit more insight into creating and leading a highly engaged, professional organization.

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  • Erik Ellefsen

    Erik Ellefsen is a CACE Senior Fellow and the Director of Networks and Improvement at the Baylor University’s Center for School Leadership. He also serves as Senior Fellow for Cardus, hosts Digital Education (a podcast providing engaging conversations with some of the most innovative education leaders), and is a leading collaborator and author of the Mindshift and Future Ready projects.