August 24, 2012
Dear Council Members,
I am still trying to process all of the information related to the bountiful Executive Committee retreat held in Urbana at the end of July. But I am clear enough about several matters to provide what I hope is a useful update.
For several years, the Executive Committee has been operating under some form of a strategic-governance model, mainly meaning that it has been becoming more systematic in aligning vision, goals, initiatives, and assessments of outcome. In this endeavor, the EC has been influenced by the work of renowned consultant Glenn H. Tecker, co-author of The Will to Govern Well: Knowledge, Trust, and Nimbleness. Tecker joined us in Urbana on July 27 and 28 in a session titled "Strategic Leadership: Effective Practices of Successful Boards," to help us think about how best to develop and express the identity of NCTE and serve the needs of our members. I'll spare you the technical details, though I will take them up with any of you who wish to know more. Suffice it to say at this point that the project of self-examination by the EC will be ongoing with an eye, always, toward choosing the best path for the Council and traveling that path well.
This involves, of course, conveying our viewpoints as persuasively as we can to various groups. With this objective in mind, we spent a stimulating couple of hours (July 27) with another consultant, Susan Nall Bales, founder and president of the Frameworks Institute, in a workshop titled "Communicating with the Public on Education Issues." The Frameworks Institute is an independent, nonprofit, research organization dedicated to enhancing the communication capacity of nonprofit entities. I am sure that everyone in attendance, language professionals all, learned something about how to improve our messages. Moreover, the plan is for Bales to continue to advise the Council on communication issues, expressly through work with the National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE). Also on the morning of July 27, we connected by Skype with Sara Kajder for her presentation of how teachers are using social media as professional development tools. Admittedly, the types of activities described above, which constitute professional development for the EC, are not attention-grabbing action or policy items, but they represent work that the EC needs to undertake habitually to function adeptly.
What should excite is progress on the aforementioned NCLE. Twenty-two of the stakeholder organizations met June 19-21 in Oak Brook, Illinois, to begin coordinating plans for advancing the conceptual, resources-based, and research components of the Center. For example, the group has commenced a study of how professional learning, including collaboration, is fostered (or inhibited) at various venues and how such activity informs (or not) teaching practices, curriculums, and school designs. As I mentioned in a previous update, the NCLE is an attempt, perhaps the boldest in the Council's history, to effect bottom-up education reform.
As I write this, the NCLE initiative is reaching out to dozens of site-based teams operating across the country to both support and document their work, in a coordinated effort to improve the conditions for literacy teaching and learning in every discipline.
While in parliamentary session on July 28, the EC agreed to forward proposed constitutional and bylaw changes to the membership for consideration and vote. The matter will be discussed at the Board of Directors meeting at the Annual Convention. The proposed changes involve provisions for electronic balloting and electronic meetings, procedures for adopting official position statements of the Council, and election processes. We intend the net effect of the proposed changes to be more inclusive and efficient governance. But you will make up your mind about that prospect as you receive detailed information in the coming months.
Again, I hope this update is useful. I thank you for the support that you extend.
Keith Gilyard, NCTE President