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Weigh In: How do you develop new ideas?

Participation, brainstorming, and ­creativity are key components.

Core Ideas
"The worst thing to do when trying to create change is to surprise somebody," says Bristol Virginia Public Schools superintendent Mark Lineburg.

"It goes back to being transparent in your leadership style. When you visit schools frequently and you observe, you get to hear what the true needs are.

"One of our most exciting initiatives is revamping our physical education program. It started with an idea from our phys ed teachers, very specific ideas about core movements. We had brainstorming sessions, involved folks from local universities, and worked through an exciting process.

"You've got to know who your key players are and get them to buy into change, then work your way through it. Next year, for example, we're going to push physical education into the core curriculum.

"Making change happen goes back again to visibility, walking the halls, sharing and pushing ideas out there."

Pool Resources
"We have a solid leadership team with representatives from each of our buildings," says Beverly Mortimer, superintendent at Concordia Unified School District 333 in Kansas. "Along with our administrators, they will look at our survey results, then plan professional development for the next school year.

"The areas on the survey this year were about Common Core standards, looking at data to drive instruction, and technology integration.

"We have some strong parent groups, and we've had students do presentations on things like technology. And we match mentors to our new teachers based on areas of need or interest. We're in a rural area, so we often do things with other school districts. If we pool our resources, we can do even more.

"Our district doesn't make excuses about not having money. We find ways to overcome."

A Step-by-Step Process
"First, determine if it's a good idea," says Patrick Osmond, superintendent at Arnold and Callaway Public Schools in central Nebraska. "Is the idea pedagogically sound? Do you have the financial and human resources to implement it? Then, determine if you can sustain it. This is the biggest problem. You may get a grant for two years. The money runs out and the idea dies. Next, how are you going to evaluate it?

"After organizing your key players, people who are trained to carry out the idea, make sure your board supports it, especially if it costs a lot or is a big departure. If you don't get buy-in from key players, you're absolutely dead in the water.

"And if the idea works, advertise it! Let people know it worked."

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