Mark Cerutti returns to talk about creating effective and sustainable change – POP8

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

In his second Kernel of wisdom, Mark Cerutti gives us the benefit of his experience in effecting and managing change. Mark is Associate Superintendent of Education Services for the Elk Grove Unified Schools District, the 5th largest School District in the State of California.

Top tips for creating effective, sustainable and data-driven change

This is a big question but a critical one.

Mark Cerutti
Mark Cerutti

1. Mark sees the current situation as narrowing down assessments of schools to a single number or a single letter and if a school is seen to be successful then the only question which is asked is ‘what did they do to be successful?’ Mark believes this is the wrong question to ask. Of course we should know what we are doing to be successful but a much more important question is:

‘How did you decide to do that?’

Mark is more interested in what the thinking process was which guided schools to do what they have done to be successful. In public education there are many things you could be doing in many different ways so it’s great to be able to look in detail at what’s guiding leaders’ thinking.

Mark mentions Dr. Alan Watkins’ work as useful in this area. His book, ‘The Secret Science of Great Leadership’ deals with physiology and then to emotions, feelings behaviour and then results. There are 6 different levels but in education we have been focussing just on ‘what are we doing?’ and ‘what results are we getting?’ In fact, in order to make significant change, we need to make sure people are able to think better and to feel better.

There are several different elements which need to be understood to encourage and sustain effective change:

  • Enlightened leadership which deals with professional learning
  • Professional and adult development – the understanding of what influences adults in terms of physiology thinking

2. Human Performance Technology is a model which has been around for a long time. Mark likes it because it differentiates between input, output and outcome data in a systematic continuous improvement model. Sometimes when Mark hears people saying they do systematic, data-based decision making, he doubts it because they haven’t had the chance to use the techniques of HPT.

3. Make sure the changes you are making start with an understanding of ‘why’. This is what Mark covered in his first kernel.

4. Mark likes the work of Ron Richhart and his ‘Creative Cultures of Thinking’. The Common Core is trying to get kids to think at a deeper level and Rickert’s work is about getting everyone – teachers, students and parents – to become creative thinkers.


Diane Ketelle
Diane Ketelle

Our first Pivotal Popcorn guest, Dr. Diane Ketelle has published a book – ‘Tread Lightly, Lead Boldly’.

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