From left, Atlanta ISD Board President Charlotte Stanley, TASB Board Development Services Consultant David Koempel, and Victoria ISD Board President Tami Keeling take time out at the 2019 TASA | TASB Convention for an informal academy session.
“I think often we don’t realize how much we don’t know,” said Atlanta ISD Board President Charlotte Stanley
It’s a sentiment school board members often express when they step up to serve as board officers—even veteran trustees who’ve served their districts for years.
TASB recently launched a pilot for a better and more convenient way to deliver board officer training that eases that transition of stepping into a leadership role on the school board: A Journey to Excellence: Board Officers’ Academy Remote Coaching.
The blended learning experience is specifically designed for new and aspiring school board officers, and the course is based around web modules on TASB’s Online Learning Center (OLC).
The digital school board officers’ academy topics include:
- Understanding the roles of board officers
- Learning about board operating procedures related to board meetings
- Understanding Robert’s Rules of Order more deeply
- Working with different personalities on a team
- Dealing effectively with people who have challenging personality styles
- Assessing school board meetings
- Giving and receiving feedback
Find out more about the Board Officers’ Academy Remote Coaching program and how to register.
In addition to the online learning modules, class members participate in seven live discussions throughout the course. The live discussion portion of the class provided the group an opportunity to talk about what they learned in the OLC course, ask questions, and discuss the course content.
“The course was well organized and informative and provided me an easy-to-follow platform,” said cohort member Emilia Moreno, board secretary for Hawley ISD. “I enjoyed listening to the ‘war stories.’ I learned a lot from the other members of the academy.”
One-on-one school board officer coaching
When the coursework was completed in the pilot program, cohort members began receiving one-on-one coaching on a variety of topics based on their personal needs. Topics for this cohort included:
- Developing more effective interaction with other board members
- Using board operating procedures
- Restructuring local superintendent evaluation systems
- Improving individual communication skills
“I liked the casual delivery of the course and the interaction with other officers,” said Atlanta ISD’s Stanley. “Some of the time, people will speak up in this kind of setting where they might not in a more structured setting. It’s amazing how much we all have in common.”
With the success of the initial cohort, TASB plans to begin regular sessions throughout the year.
“TASB is always striving to improve everything we do and offer the most relevant and applicable information and learning possible,” said Phil Gore, the former TASB Board Development Services division director. “This new delivery opportunity combines the best of both in-person and online learning in a customized way that meets the timely needs of school board officers.”
This interactive, blended approach to officer training offers much more than subject-matter learning and a purely academic emphasis, however. Stanley and Grohman both agree that the confidence-building lessons provided by the academy are vital components of any board officer’s development.
River Road ISD Trustee Amanda Brown, serving in her first year as her board’s president, said the collaboration with peers from other districts allows new board officers the opportunity to learn from real-world scenarios and share their experiences.
“I definitely gained much needed training and information through this course. Sometimes we feel as though we are on an island dealing with our issues and trying to learn as we go,” Brown said. “This gave me a way to share and collaborate with other trustees on various things like behaviors of board members, how to facilitate meetings, and the ‘why’ we serve.”
For Victoria ISD Board President Tami Keeling, the academy’s instructional approach, particularly modeling of effective behaviors and efficient board meeting conduct, was a key takeaway.
“I would recommend this course and format to any trustee wishing to improve as a board member,” Keeling said.
Nacogdoches ISD Board Secretary Tyrrel C. Grohman said the lessons learned have broader applications than local school board service.
“I have served as a trustee of East Texas Baptist University for over 14 years, and I found the Board Officers’ Academy to be applicable in these duties as well as those locally,” Grohman said. “I will be in the Leadership TASB 2020 cohort, and I feel that the academy has better prepared me for this experience and for my complex duties as a Nacogdoches ISD Board member and officer.”
“This course has already sparked conversation between my superintendent and me on so many different issues—in a positive way, I might add,” River Road ISD’s Brown said. “We are learning and growing together.”