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October 2012

The Ennea-Type Six School Leader: The Security Seeker

Note: The post below originally appeared on the Contemplative Learning website, host of this series exploring each of the Enneagram personality types.

“He is the best man who, when making his plans, fears and reflects on everything that can happen to him, but in the moment of action is bold. 

This Herodotus quote somewhat describes the motivation of the next individual in our series of school leader Ennea-type profiles:  the Type Six school leader – the Security-Seeker; especially if we take poetic license and revise a section to read:  everything that can happen to him and those in his organization.... The Security-Seeker school leader is often maligned for what, on the surface, appears to be a persistently negative outlook.  However, to the Six, this seeming-negativity is actually troubleshooting for the good of the organization, her stakeholders, and herself.  She desires to anticipate difficulty and squelch it before it happens for her own safety and success, and especially for those in whom she has placed her precious trust and love. 

We once worked closely with a Type Six school leader who related the Six point of view this way after completing an initial Enneagram study with us: 

I gained such a reputation for negativity that people started nicknaming me ‘Don Downer.’  But simply being negative – a downer – wasn’t what prompted me to question plans and instructional initiatives.  In my mind, I was figuring out what could go wrong, and I was helping other people who hadn’t or who couldn’t do that.  I was contributing and protecting by being proactive.  But I don’t think others saw it that way.

The Type Six is regularly dubbed “The Loyalist” because of his unwavering dedication to organizations and to a few trusted and admired individuals.  329_38126072393_7685_nBut his loyalty is often overshadowed by persistent questions about, and objections to, even these trusted individuals’ new ideas.  Therefore, the Six is also called, and will even call himself, a “devil’s advocate.” 

Indeed, Sixes are the devil’s advocates of the Enneagram, but not intentionally to the consternation of her stakeholders as might be perceived.  The Security-Seeker’s head- or thinking-center anxiety stems from her need for affirmation of safety and, at unhealthier levels, from her aversion to change, which always implies risk and uncertainty.  If she is not aware of her tendency to do so, the Security-seeker can halt effective reform efforts, as well as decline opportunities for significant career-advancement simply to avoid the temporary discomfort of unfamiliarity.  It is then that the Six school leader’s motto becomes the familiar idiom “Better the devil you know than the one you do not.”


Because of the Six’s desire for safety, security, and stability, he will often remain in organizations – include public school organizations – longer than anyone else.  Career or any other change incites fear of unknown variables; therefore, Sixes can become a necessary wealth of institutional knowledge and school systems’ backbones.  When superintendents or principals hire new leaders or teachers, the experienced Six can be the perfect mentor.  Routines, procedures, folklore, passwords, personality eccentricities … even door keys – the Six will remember, or remember where to locate, them all and will regale her newly-hired charge with the necessary information in great detail.

Similar to the metaphorical stiff backbone, though, the key to health is stretching and bending.  Unhealthier Six school leaders might subconsciously sabotage meaningful and effective change efforts by alienating stakeholders with persistent questions and uninformed doomsday scenarios, and by giving in to their unwarranted change-fear and refusing to budge from their current situations.

Indeed, while the Security-Seeker’s carefulness can foster effective instructional leadership by funneling time, resources, and energies into most effective initiatives and programs, it can also result in stagnation of school culture and student achievement due to mostly imagined future problems. 

Practices for wholeness:  stretching and bending the backbone

The Security-Seeker enjoys a familiar routine of activity (and non-activity).  Therefore, a stretch for this school leader might be to gradually embrace a healthy spontaneity when participating in extracurricular activities. 

In the school community, the Six might relinquish some safety-control by entrusting research of, and preliminary decision-making about, programs or initiatives requiring change to other administrative instructional leaders or teacher leaders. 

Finally, the Security-Seeker could consider mentoring new administrators to begin imparting some of her vast array of institutional knowledge.

Keeping motivation in check

282308_10150315889592394_740662393_9838252_7429182_nSecurity-Seekers’ serious, long-term commitments to school organizations are admirable.  Sixes may rightfully pride themselves for their “stick-to-itiveness” in times of trial.  However, this commitment should not be solely motivated by a deep-seated desire for safety and change-abhorrence.  When the Six’s self-talk regularly includes a question of motivation (Why am I resisting?), and she can honestly respond and take appropriate action, then the Security-Seeker school leaders’ cautious, admirable discernment process can translate to meaningful school reform efforts. 

The challenge of improving teaching and learning implies change.  The Security-Seeker may shy away from this change because it is risky; however, she may also bravely approach this change because it is full of wonderful possibility. 

The healthy Six school leader faces her fears of the unknown and takes the brave leap of faith to move the school into successful new territory, and away from comfortable, but stagnant, traditions.

Look for additional profiles of other Enneagram Types as school leaders in coming weeks. For a complete list of Enneagram resources, check the Enneagram links on the left-hand side of this page, and visit our Services page to learn about the wide range of CLS workshops available for leadership and professional development.  For previous type profiles, click here and scroll to the bottom of the post.

Just published: My latest research on coaching protocols for enhancing principals' instructional leadership

I'm delighted to share that my on-going research on the use of coaching protocols to assist school principals in enhancing their instructional leadership has just been published in the online journal, Qualitative Research in Education.  Congratulations and thanks to my co-authors, Janet Hurt, associate superintendent for the Logan County Schools; Beckie Stobaugh, assistant professor in WKU's School of Teacher Education; and my advisor and mentor John Keedy, University of Louisville.  You can read full text of the article here.

This study built on research Janet and I initiated in our doctoral dissertations on theories of practice, which are mental maps people use to solve problems. The concept was first articulated by Chris Argyris and Donald Schön, who argued that by becoming more aware of the underlying (often subconscious) assumptions we bring to our problem solving, we can gradually develop more effective action strategies in the workplace.

In my dissertation, I used the theories of practice model to "map" the instructional leadership strategies of effective school principals.  But what I discovered is that even highly effective school leaders had difficulty reflecting on their assumptions and action strategies.  I concluded that without some mechanism to help them do that, most principals would continue to just react to problems in a trial-and-error sort of way that prevented them from understanding how their own thinking about the problem might be hindering their efforts to find an effective solution.

In response, my co-authors and I developed a coaching protocol that could help principals become more self-reflective about their instructional leadership.  Inspired by the growing body of literature on teacher coaching, we used theories of practice to help principals develop a plan for assisting a teacher who was struggling to improve his/her instruction.  Using a qualitative research approach, we met with these principals several times throughout a single school year, documenting their efforts to support the teacher's improvement and creating opportunities for the principals to reflect on their own thinking and behavior and modify their own strategies as a result.

While each of the four principals had varying results in their efforts to help the teacher improve (two of the four targeted teachers were non-renewed at the end of the year), all the principals reported positive perceptions of the protocol, and found it greatly enhanced their self-awareness as leaders.  The study documented a dramatic change in one principal in particular, who used her efforts with her target teacher to launch a more concerted, school-wide initiative for instructional improvement.

In a subsequent study, I've been duplicating the protocol described here but with all the principals in one single district, adding the element of group coaching.  This study will explore how this cohort model and collaborative group coaching can enhance or hinder the process and how it influences the principals' overall instructional leadership.  I'll be sharing tentative results of this study with co-author Tom Stewart of Austin Peay State University and representatives from the Monroe County Schools at the upcoming AdvancEd Innovation Summit in Lexington, November 29-30.

We hope to continue this line of research, applying the theory of practice framework in a wider array of school contexts and with other administrative roles like superintendents.

To read more about the conceptual framework for the study, go here.  Contact me for more information about this study and related research.

UPDATED: Districts of innovation regs released; still no substitute for school choice

Yesterday the Kentucky Department of Education unveiled administrative regulations for the implementation of House Bill 37, the new "districts of innovation" law.  I was honored to be interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal for its coverage of the announcement, which you can read here.

Districts may apply for "innovation" status (or may apply on behalf of individual schools) and, if granted, will be given wide leeway in bypassing a number of traditional educational regulations.  Schools might use this freedom to innovate the structure of the school day, experiment with various technology-facilitated approaches to learning, develop creative ways of assigning and utilizing staff, and significantly alter the school calendar (read more here).

I'm genuinely pleased with what I've read so far about KDE's approach to the new law.  In an address to Louisville educators yesterday, Commissioner Terry Holliday emphasized that he expects to see expansively creative thinking in the proposals submitted by districts, advising them "not to apply at all if all you want to do is move the chairs on the Titanic."

As I emphasized in my comments to the Courier-Journal, while I'm excited for the possibilities the new law offers, districts of innovation are not a meaningful substitute for charter schools, or more specifically, school choice in general.

In a columns I wrote for the Lexington Herald-Leader earlier this year (here and here), I made the case that charter schools offer a level of autonomy and accountability that traditional schools just can't muster.  In addition to their freedom to innovate, they bear the ultimate form of accountability: charter schools that can't draw students, or that fail to demonstrate steady progress in student achievement, will be shut down. 

While the districts of innovation bill partially addresses the first point (autonomy), it does nothing to address the second point (accountability).  While traditional schools face mounting scrutiny and pressure to improve every year, there is still no mechanism by which poor and middle-income families can seek educational alternatives for children trapped in failing, tax-dollar-draining schools. 

Let me be clear: Kentucky has many terrific traditional public schools that have nothing to fear from charter schools.  But in other communities both urban and rural, parents deserve options.

There is nothing magical about charter schools, of course.  Expanding educational choices for families won't magically cure every educational challenge Kentucky faces.  But in every other realm of life, choice and competition have brought new innovations, reduced costs, and provided a vast array of options that otherwise wouldn't exist.

I hope Kentucky's new districts of innovation do creative and amazing things on behalf of kids, and I wish them great success.  But all such districts will maintain their monopoly over education for the vast majority of families, and that will ultimately place limits on their innovation, and on the choices and opportunities for Kentucky's kids. 

(An inventory of reasons why, as a veteran public educator, I favor school choice, here).

UPDATE: Apparently, official regulations for the districts of innovation law have not been released, but will be shortly.  The information shared last week was a preview of the regulations and guidelines for application.  Read more on this, including a look at specific requirements for innovation status, here.

KY school accountability scores go public Nov 2 with problematic percentile rankings

After Kentucky's latest education accountability overhaul, the first year's worth of student performance results, including school and district-level ratings and rankings, will be released November 2.

Conventional wisdom among most educators is that school performance levels will appear much worse than the past, in part because the Common Core standards upon which the tests are based are more rigorous than what came before.

I'm okay with much of the new accountability system as it does, indeed, amount to a real improvement over our previous model.  The inclusion of student growth factor (which gives schools credit for how much they progressed students, even if many students didn't reach proficiency), and a more reasonable weighting of test scores against other variables like student retention, closing achievement gaps, and qualitative program evaluations for non-tested areas, are welcomed changes.

I'm not entirely thrilled, however, with the way school and district performance will be reported.  All accountability factors will be combined in a formula that assigns each school and district a score between 1 and 100.  Fair enough.

Schools will then be ranked based on their scores.  Rankings always have serious limitations, as such strategies are devices of convenience and don't convey all the contextual variables that influence where a school winds up on the list (I recently got dinged for perhaps overemphasizing rankings myself, and the point was somewhat valid).  I can live with this ranking system, though, because people do naturally want to know how their school stacks up against others, even if specific placement on the list has a limited meaning.  There has to be some qualitative difference between a school that is number 20 on the list and a school that is ranked 120.

My objection to the Kentucky school rankings is that schools will then receive a performance label based, in part, on their percentile ranking on the list.  The top 10 percent of schools will be labeled "distinguished," and the top 30 percent "proficient," while the 70th percentile and below will be labeled "Needs Improvement" if they are also not demonstrating Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind categories.  (The Department of Education news release doesn't mention this, but another KDE communication indicates that schools that are below the 70th percentile but made AYP will be labeled "Progressing" if they achieve improvement targets in future years based on these initial 2012 results).

The problem with assigning labels based on percentile rank is that there will always be a top 10 percent, top 30 percent, and so on, no matter how high the overall achievement levels get.  Perhaps there is value in recognizing the top 10 percent as "Distinguished" regardless, but to classify schools and districts as "proficient" based on their placement in the 70-90th percentile band is arbitrary, and somewhat misleading to the public.

What should matter is how much students in any given school are learning relative to well-understood, stable standards of achievement (like college and career-readiness as measured by various ACT instruments; still not perfect but at least that's a standard measure).  How students in a school are doing compared to everyone else is interesting, but doesn't tell you much.

Most educators know how percentile rankings work.  Policy makers should too.


Richard Elmore: "I do not believe in the institutional structure of public schooling anymore"

In my teaching and writing I sometimes ponder whether the existing structures of schooling are actually the biggest obstacle to student learning.  Can schools as we currently know them ever accomplish the mission we've established for them?

This week Richard Elmore, one of the nation's most prominent educational thinkers, emphatically shared his conviction that they cannot.  Speaking at a forum on education reform sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and the Harvard Graduate School of Education (where Elmore is professor), the father of instructional rounds distinguished himself from other panelists by concluding that schooling as we know it will inevitably fail.

"I do not believe in the institutional structure of public schooling anymore," Elmore said, noting that his long-standing work at helping teachers and principals professionalize their practice is "palliative care for a dying institution."  Elmore predicted "a progressive dissociation between learning and schooling."

You can watch Elmore, along with other panelists including Rick Hess, on CSPAN's video library coverage of the event, here (Elmore starts speaking about 1 hour, 20 minutes into the video).

In the limited format of the panel Elmore had little time to explain his conclusions, but indicated he is writing a book that further explores what he thinks education of the future will look like.  His comments reflected his concerns that technology, and the networked learning that is emerging in the 21st century, is a key reason for the collapse of institutional schooling, and that nueroscience is revealing how inadequate our schools are for addressing the way children actually learn.

"The modal classroom in the modal school [in the United States] is exactly the opposite of what we're learning about how human beings develop cognitively," he said.

What kind of learning structures better match brain science and the newly emerging networked world?  Elmore pointed to the research of Sugata Mitra, whose dramatic "hole in the wall" experiments with children in the developing world reveal how, with a little assistance from technology and the community of fellow learners, kids can master tremendously large amounts of information with minimal coercion, aid, or teaching from adults.  Watch Mitra's TED Talk, which Elmore references, below:


Elmore also mentioned a TED Talk by Charles Leadbeater, who builds on Mitra's work and illustrates how the most dramatic innovations in education are likely to emerge, not from the U.S., Finland, or other industrialized countries, but from the booming populations of children in the developing world:


Elmore's comments left me feeling both excited and anxious about the future of schooling.  I was encouraged that someone of Elmore's stature affirms something that I've been feeling in my gut for many years: that all of our efforts to improve teaching and learning, while worthwhile, may ultimately be foiled by the way we "do" school itself.

I have been especially critical of the American high school, with its fanatical obsession with bell schedules, its rigid attachment to traditional measures of student learning (grades and "credits"), and its pervasive resistance to de-privatizing the practice of teaching.  Indeed, some of Elmore's harshest comments were directed at secondary schooling.  "High school is the second- or third-most dysfunctional institution in American society," he said, without mentioning the most dysfunctional (though we can probably take some good guesses; my money is on the federal government).

High schools, though, in some ways are a smaller system that represents key deficiencies in the larger system of education itself.  Rigid bureacratic structures and an emphatic emphasis on institutional stability, along with with deeply vested and powerful interests that resist innovation and change, have made deep school reform nearly impossible.  "I'm highly suspicious that the bureacracy has any interest in helping poor kids," Elmore said of policy initiatives designed to close achievement gaps.

What are the practical implications of Elmore's conclusions for leaders of traditional schools?  There's much to ponder here, but Elmore was clear that he hasn't given up on trying to improve schools for the children who remain there for the time being.  Elmore noted that he continues to take his work in this realm very seriously.  But he seems to think we'd do well to recognize the limitations of these efforts.

Many Kentucky districts have invested large amounts of time into the practice of instructional rounds, the school improvement initiative Elmore is probably best known for.  I was trained by Elmore and his team in the instructional rounds process in 2009 and subsequently trained scores of administrators and teacher leaders from multiple districts in the rounds protocol.  But despite these efforts, and the rich instructional conversations that emerged as a result, I've seen little evidence of meaningful, lasting changes in practice, especially at the secondary level.  (For more on my positive experience with instructional rounds, see my chapter in the forthcoming book, Lessons in Leading Change: Learning from Real World Cases, from RossiSmith Publishers).

Elmore seems exceedingly pessimistic that even powerful tools like instructional rounds will stave off the death of traditional schools, and while he emphasizes that he is making a predictive (as opposed to normative) argument, it sounds like Elmore will not mourn the death of school as we know it.

What I have been emphasizing to my colleagues and to practicing and aspiring school leaders is that thoughtful educators must put themselves at the forefront of this conversation, so that we might play a constructive role in whatever new forms of learning emerge from the ashes of traditional schooling.  We must do so in a way that recognizes and embraces these changes instead of fortifying existing institutions that no longer work.  This is why I am increasingly interested in various models of school choice, in child-centered learning models like Montessori, and seemingly radical movements like homeschooling.

Clinging to dysfunctional models will actually do more damage to our children in the long-run, and so more dramatic shifts of thinking and practice now seem in order.  As Elmore put it, "You cannot break a monopoly by being nice."

Schmoker lambasts complex teacher evals (like KY's)

This week students in my Administration of School Personnel class (EDAD 590) have been exploring Kentucky's new proposed system of teacher evaluations.  Kentucky's efforts are, in part, a response to the requirements of the federal Race to the Top grant, but also the Commonwealth's answer to the the 2009 report, The Widget Effect, which garnered national headlines for its research on the sad state of teacher evaluations in the U.S.  The Widget Effect concluded that in the vast majority of school districts, teachers receive satisfactory performance evaluations regardless of their actual skill level or accomplishments.  Administrators have failed to use existing evaluation systems to identify and remove poor performers or to recognize and reward high performers.

Kentucky's proposed system, which is in statewide pilot this year, and (if all goes as planned) will be fully implemented next year and count toward each school's overall accountability formula, tries to respond in a meaningful way to the criticisms described in The Widget Effect

Many students found things to admire in the new system. Personally, I appreciate the fact that it is based on multiple measures of effectiveness (formal observations - the centerpiece of evaluation in the past - is but one component).  I also think the new components like self-reflection, a more substantial professional growth plan, setting goals for student growth, and soliciting student and parent feedback, are vital to the effective evaluation of performance.

But others have also noted how lengthy and complex these forms are, and how unwieldy this seems to make the whole evaluation process.  Mike Schmoker, author of Focus (the book I recommend more than any other to fellow educators), recently leveled his blistering, trademark-style of criticism against evaluation systems like Kentucky is considering, in the pages of Education Week (full text available for subscribers only, but email me if you'd like a copy: [email protected]).

In brief, Schmoker's concerns echo many of the ideas he articulated in Focus.  Schmoker believes that educators learned long ago the essential components of effective teaching and learning (he lays them out in the book), but we have simply failed to implement these components consistently and with fidelity.  (For the record, those essentials are sound lesson and curriculum design - which he describes in the book - and rich literacy instruction across the curriculum).  Instead, school leaders keep chasing the next shiny object (in the form of whatever the latest educational fad seems to be), piling new initiative upon new initiative so that teachers can never get really good at anything.  He recommends that school leaders strip away everything but the essentials and relentlessly focus on getting them to the level of deep implementation in all classrooms (Doug Reeves defines "deep implementation" as 90 percent of teachers doing the targeted behavior 90 percent of the time).

Schmoker believes that teacher evaluation should be approached in the same way.  Schools should simplify the evaluation process, not make it more complex, by focusing on the extent to which teachers implement those essential elements of effective teaching.

Done right, teacher evaluation could ensure precisely the kind of systematic action that would guarantee immediate improvement, i.e., by clarifying a minimal set of the most essential, widely known criteria for effective curriculum, such as rich content taught largely through literacy activities and sound instruction.

Once clarified, evaluation would then focus on only one or two elements at a time, with multiple opportunities for teachers to practice and receive feedback from their evaluators.  Teachers' progress and performance on these criteria would be the basis for evaluation.

Here I'm hearing echoes of Robert Marzano's latest book, Effective Supervision, which I've discussed previously and which focuses on the five conditions essential for helping teachers improve their instructional expertise (the most important role of the principal, and the heart of instructional leadership, as I define it).

Schmoker also emphasizes the assessment of teacher performance on these essentials should mostly be done through unannounced classroom observation visits to avoid the inevitable dog-and-pony show, something that might become even more common with our new, more complex teacher evaluation systems.

Finally, Schmoker stresses that until schools are implementing the essentials described in Focus, meaningful teacher evaluation can't take place, since these are the things the evaluation should be based on to start with.  So it actually starts with leadership that is focused on curriculum and instructional practices, and only then goes after teacher performance and delivery of those essentials.

For my part, I can't help but admire what Kentucky is trying to do in improving the evaluation process, but at the end of the day, I can't argue with Schmoker either.  As I have emphasized before, evaluation is no substitute for visionary leadership.  Schmoker reminds us of what the content of that vision should be, and how to pursue it. 

Kentucky is on an inevitable path of making teacher evaluation more complex.  Will it work?  In some schools, yes, in others, no.  The difference, I suspect, will be the extent to which each school actually focuses its practice on the essentials Schmoker describes, and not the addition of new, more complex tools for evaluation.

Workshop on "twice exceptional" students this Wednesday

WKU's Center for Gifted Studies, which offers excellent professional development opportunities for educators, parents, and the general public, will sponsor a day-long workshop this Wednesday, October 10, on "twice exceptional" students, those who are gifted or talented but also have a disability.  The free event will be held at Carroll Knicely Conference Center on WKU's South Campus.  Click here for more details.

KASA to sponsor workshop series on employee discipline in school contexts

The Kentucky Association of School Administrators offers excellent professional development opportunities for aspiring and practicing school leaders.  An upcoming series of workshops will focus on dealing with employee discipline situations in school contexts.

The workshops will be facilitated by consultants from UpSlope Solutions, LLC, and will be delivered in three day-long modules.  The entire series is available in three locations throughout the state: Owensboro, Hazard, and Lexington.

Click here to learn more.  Significant registration discounts are available to KASA members.

The Ennea-Type Five School Leader: The Knowledge Seeker

Note: The post below originally appeared on the Contemplative Learning website, host of this series exploring each of the Enneagram personality types.

In our ongoing series of Enneagram type profiles of school leaders, we last visited Type Four, a rarity among education administrators (and in the population generally).  Like the Four, Type Fives are a relative small group of people overall, and hard (but not impossible) to find among the ranks of school principals and administrative leaders.  Also like the Four, the Ennea-Type Five school leader relishes his or her uniqueness, particularly because the Five longs to be an expert, a fountain of knowledge and information about a specific topic.  We therefore call the Type Five the Knowledge Seeker, and at their healthy best, Type Fives can bring their inquisitiveness and keen observatory powers to bear in rich and productive ways within school settings.

538737_410482165631777_1641643757_n[1]Type Fives tend to be intensely intellectual and cerebral.  They are naturally compelled to learn and were often high-performing students themselves.  Type Fives tend to excel in math and sciences, but can be found in all fields of study.  What distinguishes the Type Five is not so much what she is interested in learning, but the enormous focus and absorption she experiences in her learning, almost as if she is compelled to become an expert on a particular topic.

Knowledge is Power (and, sometimes, Pitfall)

And indeed, like all Ennea-types, the Five is driven by a specific deep desire (and its corollary fear), in this case the hunger to intellectually master a field of knowledge so as to stave off his underlying fear of uncertainty and vulnerability.  Like other types in the “Thinking Center” of the Enneagram, the Type Five struggles with anxiety.  For the Five, knowledge really is power, and the Five will manage the uncertainty of the world by marshalling all his intellectual resources and all the information he can amass to protect himself and others.

Type Fives are drawn to leadership roles in part because they have specific knowledge that they believe can best be utilized in an administrative capacity.  This move toward leadership is actually a sign of health for a Five.  Average Fives tend to be highly introspective and in the face of stress will quickly withdraw from situations requiring social interactions.  They prefer the serene space of their minds.

But in healthier states, Fives move with their arrow of integration toward Type Eight, becoming more commanding, confident, and engaged.  In this space, the Type Five school leader can use her considerable analytic skills to process the vast amounts of information necessary for running schools and enhancing student achievement and can devise thoughtful, multi-layered, long -term visions for school improvement.   Few can compete with the Five’s capacity to understand complex problems and synthesize information, transforming it into a vivid picture of what a school (and the student learning within it) might become.

Healthy Five school leaders convey that vision to teachers, students, parents, and the community. 181839_197996393547023_5022237_n[1] They organize the complex structures and processes of the school to maximize resources and get results.  They love knowledge for its own sake, and their passion for learning can be infectious to others.  They have tremendous powers of perception and observation, and at healthy levels can translate those observations into feedback and support that is encouraging, meaningful, and above all useful to teachers and staff members.

But the Type Five school leader faces enormous challenges in staying actively engaged in his leadership role.  The Five’s natural tendency, especially in times of uncertainty and stress, is to retreat from interactions with all but a few close, highly-trusted, confidants.   This leads to isolation, a lack of visibility within the school community, and great difficulty in communicating his ideas in ways that others can understand.

Fives have a sense of economy about their knowledge, in that they experience social interactions and the sharing of their expertise as a kind of cost, even a burden.  The Five tends to react by hoarding his ideas and information as a form of self protection.  This reinforces the Five’s sense of being disconnected from others, and his tendency to retreat ever further into the safe haven of his own mind.  The relentlessly social nature of the school leader’s role can become an overwhelming challenge to the Type Five.

Practices for Wholeness: Uniting Body and Mind

Perhaps more than any other type, Fives need to regularly reconnect with their bodies.   Physical exercise like yoga, martial arts, running, and other activities, when done with mindfulness, can be deeply healing for the Five and help her reconnect to herself as an embodied person. 

Type Five school leaders need to be particularly aware of the tendency of their type to withdrawal, and make an active effort to reach out and engage with others.  Building a strong leadership team, especially one that includes a handful of trusted advisors who understand the Five’s strengths and weaknesses and who the Five can turn to for advice and a measure of his or her communication effectiveness, is essential.

Above all, the Type Five school leader must guard against his tendency to over think problems and postpone action in favor of more analysis.  The stakes in most schools are too high to spend an excessive amount of time parsing out every aspect of a problem and its consequences.  The healthy Five school leader can lead schools and solve problems without getting overwhelmed by their complexities.  Then, the Knowledge-seeking Five can happily shine as an expert and intellectual who is nevertheless also engaged and highly effective.

Look for additional profiles of other Enneagram Types as school leaders in coming weeks. For a complete list of Enneagram resources, check the Enneagram links on the left-hand side of this page, and visit our Services page to learn about the wide range of CLS workshops available for leadership and professional development.  For previous type profiles, click here and scroll to the bottom of the post.

Education Trust national conference to focus on closing achievement gaps

There are so many great national education conferences each year I don't normally promote specific gatherings (unless, quite honestly, I happen to be presenting there!).   This year, though, I want to put in a plug for the Education Trust 2012 National Conference because prominent Ed Trust staff members have spoken at WKU in past couple of years, and I think this would be a great opportunity for local school leaders to follow-up on conversations we've begun thanks to their visits.

In March 2011, Ed Trust founder and president Kati Haycock spoke to the first annual WKU Doctoral Symposium, sharing compelling data about how some high-poverty schools are nevertheless shattering the myth that poor kids can't learn and are posting high levels of student achievement.

In a follow-up to Haycock's visit, Ed Trust staff writers Karin Chenoweth and Christina Theokas visited in September 2011 at the invitation of WKU's Center for Learning Excellence and shared stories from their latest book, Getting it Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools.  Whereas their previous books explored the kinds of schools Kati Haycock regularly highlights in her presentations, in Getting it Done Karin and Christina take a close look at what principals in these successful, high-poverty schools do to get results. 

Many area school leaders then tuned in for a series of webinars with Karin and Christina as they interviewed principals featured in the book.

Borrowing from the book's title, the 2012 Ed Trust conference theme is "Getting it Done! Raising Achievement, Closing Gaps for All."  In addition to hosting several keynote speakers, the conference, which will be held November 8-9 in Washington, D.C., will also feature sessions focusing on practical strategies for transforming schools and closing achievement gaps.

Click here for more information on the conference, and here for a tentative schedule of presenters.

As many readers know, I have a new baby at my house and I'm not traveling much right now, so I won't be able to attend, but I encourage others to learn more and considering going.  Education Trust events are informative and inspiring and might be just what you need to ramp up your own school improvement efforts.