About Schlechty Center
The Schlechty Center is a private, nonprofit organization committed to partnering with school leaders across the country to transform their classrooms, schools, and school districts from places focused on compliance to those focused on engagement.
Our work begins with the assumption that there is a direct link between the caliber of schoolwork students are provided and the willingness of students to engage in schoolwork. When students engage in and persist with their work, they are much more likely to learn that which schools, parents, and the community deem important. However, the production of engaging experiences for students requires a commitment to continuous innovation and the constant creation of new ways of doing things—in the classroom and the principal's office, as well as in the central office and the boardroom. This means that the schools and the districts in which schools are embedded must be organized as learning organizations rather than as bureaucracies. The reason this is so is that bureaucracies require certainty and predictability, whereas learning organizations are designed to give order, meaning, and discipline to innovation and creativity. Therefore, in a school district that functions as a learning organization, the core business is to ensure that every student, every day, is provided challenging, interesting, and satisfying work.
A second assumption of our work is that the transformation of schools calls on all who work in and around schools to change their mental models regarding their roles and—based on these changes—to learn to do things they have never done before. For example, we believe school boards should function as community leaders and builders of communities around the schools, as contrasted with representatives of the disagreements that exist in the community; school boards should be consensus builders rather than conflict managers. Similarly, we believe that teachers should see themselves as designers of work and leaders of students in the conduct of that work more than as instructors and primary sources of information for students. Principals should view themselves as leaders of leaders, and superintendents should view themselves as intellectual and moral leaders who transform problems into opportunities and encourage others to seize these opportunities. In keeping with these views we have tailored tools, workshops, and professional development activities for many role groups in schools and school districts, including school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, and central office staff. We are also prepared to develop customized programs to respond to the particular needs of individual school districts and schools.
What We Offer
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Program vs. Framework
The work of the Schlechty Center is predicated on the assumption that local educators, rather than outside consultants, are the people who must reform and transform our schools. Therefore, we position ourselves as the school reformer's best friend rather than as school reformers ourselves. We provide tools, intellectual scaffoldings, frameworks to discipline action, training experiences, networking opportunities, disciplined discussions, dialogue, and advice on strategy and process. But, we know in the end it is the practitioner who does most of the really hard work that must be done to transform the schools.
Because the style of the work of the Schlechty Center is at odds with those consulting operations that come in with a pre-packaged program and a canned set of training activities, it is sometimes initially difficult for those who work with us to connect with what we do. Our goal is to learn with our clients and to leave them with tools that make it more likely that they will continue to learn long after we have departed. What we offer is more than a program; it is a new way of doing the business of schooling.