Coast Union School District

The Superintendent of Coast Union School District in California, USA, shares her HSD story.

In schools, everything seems to be about having a program that you can replicate. Here is a set of 5 steps. Here is a best practice curriculum or a way to make a decision. If we do this, all will be okay. But that's not the answer. If it were, we would not be engaged in daily conversations about what needs to be changed in education.

What's different about HSD is that it is about a way of thinking and being. It provides everybody a new way of looking at their world. It's about helping everyone understand truly that there really may not be a right answer. That stops so many conversations in education. The idea that everything needs to be researched to death vs. just take a step.

Nancy Myers, Ph.D.
Coast Union School District

In Coast Union School District on the west coast, Dr. Nancy Myers leads a system-wide cultural shift to transform how people think about teaching and learning. Using human systems dynamics, she reoriented the Boards approach to planning; trained every administrator and manager in using Adaptive Action to transform patterns of teaching and learning; and shifted the management structures to help people collaborate across silos.

With the insights gained by Board members who attended the training, they shifted their focus from traditional long-range strategic planning to Adaptive Planning. As the board shapes system-wide policy issues, administration and teachers across the district engage in Adaptive Action to reinforce those patterns the Board has named.

The district adopted a shared set of simple rules to guide decision making. From the board room (where they are painted in a larger-than-life mural on the wall), to classrooms (where they are posted so teachers and students learn together), staff, students, and community use the Simple Rules.

Nancy Myers is changing the way people think and work in her school district. Has it been an effortless process? No. Neither has it been a constant challenge of assuring fidelity of implementation or adherence to a complicated process or protocol. For this energetic and visionary leader, building adaptive capacity among staff and students is becoming a reality.

* The names in this story have been changed to protect privacy of the community. Contact for details.

Related Resources

Rooted in the study of chaos and complexity, Adaptive Action introduces a simple, common-sense process that will guide you and your organization into reflective action.
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