• Janelle Safford

The Ferris Wheel of Public Education


Long before I read the book The Four Disciplines of Execution, I often referred to the ongoing, nonstop activities of a school year as a Ferris wheel. I noticed that most of the decisions and discussions were taking place in the months of June and July among very few faculty members. When August rolls around, it’s time to get back on the Ferris wheel where there are far too many distractions and requirements to allow for anything new or unexpected. Real change can only happen when people understand the goal and are willing to commit to what needs to be done to achieve it.

It’s easy to spot areas that need improvement in a public school, however we must squash the temptation to try to fix everything all at once. Focusing on more than two or three goals at once is asking for defeat, and if we want to change behavior and battle against the notion of “it’s the way we’ve always done it” we will need to focus on only one wildly important goal.

The problem with this is that there are many groups within a public school system that all have their own wildly important goals. They all believe that their goal should be the one that deserves the focus. I suppose this is due to the silo nature of the traditional school system. Very few schools have a common single goal and most administrators are trying to keep everyone appeased, which feeds into the “whirlwind” mentioned in the book.

Although I agree and believe that the steps laid out in the 4DX book will help with my innovation plan, I am admittedly skeptical about any large scale, district wide changes without the focused effort of the entire district that must come from a sustained culture and begin with leadership.

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Winnsboro, Texas