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Leading in a culture of connection, connecting and connectivity

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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To reach a port, we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor.  Sail, not drift.

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

As a connected educator and as a public school
superintendent my mission is to engage, inspire, and empower leaders, staff, students, parents, and the community in support of student learning. In order to recharge my batteries and to sharpen my saw I engage in professional learning activities and professional coaching opportunities. My work is both inside the organization and inside professional organizations. Through
connected learning and connected leading I am able to accomplish a great deal. Thanks to amazing leaders, colleagues, staff, students, Board members, and community, I'm able to enjoy a great deal of change and growth.

In our district we strive to balance change with the systems' capacity for change and we also work to identify the focus areas that support effective culture and leadership throughout the organization. Our main focus areas are in the training (professional learning), technologies, relationship building, culture building and leadership.

Through Twitter professional learning and chats, through leadership at the state and national levels, through reading, on the job experience and through reflection, my aim is to be a superintendent who leads in a culture of connectivity. Briefly this can describe a superintendent who:

· Organizes the entire community around specific and focused
goal areas

· Builds relationships constantly

· Seeks feedback, shares feedback and incorporates feedback
into actions

· Communicates by listening first, processing, and

· Stays focused on the big picture, medium picture, and

· Respects the Board of Education and connects with the
Board professionally

· Learns about the formal structures and the informal
structures and moves all forward

· Reaches beyond the "walls" of the school District and
community to learn, grow, & share

· Responds to all inquiries in a timely and respectful

· Is connected to the modern day technology as an
accelerator for teaching, learning, and leading

· Measures culture and reports on culture and deliberately
works to improve organizational culture

· Keeps students, staff, and community at the forefront of
all decision making

· Communicates over and over and over again – clear
messages, brands, modes of communication

In support of my journey to lead in a culture of connectivity I have been fortunate for guidance, coaching, mentorship and
professional learning opportunities. From January 2012-March 2014 I have embarked on an educational and personal and professional journey with other leaders around the state through the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) School for Advanced Leadership. The mission of ISAL II was "To provide IASA members the experiences that build exemplary leadership, knowledge and skill sets essential for ensuring successful student learning at the local level."

ISAL II was a challenging two-year cohort training journey that focused on a superintendent's role through five leadership lenses: •Facilitator of shared moral purpose; • Change agent; • Relationship/culture promoter; • Capacity builder; and • oherence maker

From the inspiration and engagement of becoming an ISAL Fellow, I sought out and was accepted into a national leadership program from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and since July 2014 I have been learning and honing leadership skills from the able guidance, inspiration, and stewardship of the National Superintendent Certification Program. I'm excited to continue the leadership journey with support and guidance from expert coaches and leaders around the state, region, and nation. All of this work, scholarship, practice, reflection and growth ties to our District mission of Engage, Inspire, mpower! It's all done in support of service, education, growth, excellence.

As I've shared before on the blog, I co-moderate a Twitter chat for superintendents around the nation and world with my friend and colleague Dr. Nick Polyak. In closing, for this post, I'm sharing some suggestions/questions/reflection points in the spirit of #SuptChat.

Leading in a culture of connectivity means getting involved in the profession, like #suptchat on Twitter ...

S – Stop ...now that you have read this blog post, stop and reflect on the main ideas and how have you or will you implement one or more of the suggestions:

Seek input from stakeholders – if you have done this – have you shared the data and taken action as a result? If not, will you make an action plan to seek input and co-plan the next professional development activity in your District?

U- Understand how your personal values and professional philosophy guides all of your actions and successes – have you told your story or shared your fundamental values lately? If not – please do – start with your Board at the next meeting. What is your leadership philosophy regarding professional development? Define it – write it – share it.

P – Plan for how next week you will start the process of connecting with stakeholders and leaders with respect to connected professional development. Plan a meeting with your union or faculty leadership and engage in two way conversations about professional development in your District. Take input and plan with them.

T – Think of three take-aways from this blog post you will present at your next leadership team meeting, write them down.

Chat: Pick an edchat, like #suptchat or a state edchat and participate for an hour – if you do this regularly, make a point to respond to questions; if you have not yet done this – now is the time to experience a digital form of professional development.

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Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109).  Mike is married and is the father of two young children. He lives and works in suburban Chicago. Mike attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Educational Specialist in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. Mike has had a variety of experiences as an educational professional. He began his educational career as an elementary and middle school teacher, prior to assuming roles of associate principal and principal at the middle school level, and as an assistant superintendent for personnel services (PK-8). He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat - the superintendent educational chat on Twitter with Nick Polyak, and he and Polyak co-authored the book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (Rowman-Littlefield Publishers).


Presentations, Certifications

American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent Certification Program (2014-2016)

Illinois School of Advanced Leadership (ISAL) through the IASA and Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, WI) Earned title of Fellow (2012-2014)

2017 - Keynote presenter & breakout presenter EdTechTeam Leadership Symposia (OH, CA)

2016 - Presenter at the IASA State Superintendent Conference - Social Media for Supts.

2016 - Co-facilitator IASA Aspiring Superintendent Academy

2016- Co-Director Legislation for the Lake County Superintendents

2015, 2016, 2017 – Presenter at the AASA National Council in Ed – Social Media for Supts.

2015 – Co-Presenter at Suburban Superintendent Roundtable for Northern Illinoishttp://t.co/x8Ls5Ddg00

2015 – Presenter at IASBO A New Design Frontier for Next Generation Learning

2015 – Panelist Leading for Transformative Change at Tech & Learning Live Chicago

2015 – Presenter at Illinois CTO Summit (Center for Digital Education and the Illinois Educational Technology Leaders (IETL)) Leadership and Vision

2015 – Presentation at Discovery Education Superintendent Digital Transition Symposium in Washington, D.C.Telling Our Story: Innovation in DPS109

2015 Presentations at Joint Annual Conference - Social Media for Superintendents and Effective Building Design

2015 Presenter at Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference

2014-present Co-moderate national/international monthly Twitter chat #suptchat

2011 Illinois ASCD Leadership Institute Presenter – Using Danielson Frameworks



Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). I Hear What You’re Saying...And I Respect You. Journal of Scholarship and Practice, Summer 2016/Volume 13. No.2, 44-54.


In Publication: Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2017). Managing Up. Principal (NAESP)


Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Reimagined NGSS learning spaces: Principals as holistic school improvement leaders. Principal Leadership, 52-54.


Himebaugh G., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Inspiring a Shared Vision. Update, Spring (Leadership Issue), 24-29.


Lubelfeld M. Rev. of Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, by Lucy Calkins.ILASCD Summer Newsletter, Summer 2016, Volume 62, No. 2: 25-27.


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N. (2017). The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today. Lathan, MD: Rowman-Littlefield. -March 2017


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N., Seibert A. (2016). Leaders in Learning Through AASA’s Digital Consortium. School Administrator, February, 32-33.


Other (Memberships, other experiences)


Suburban Schools Superintendents (SSS)

Illinois & American Association of School Administrators (IASA/AASA,

National Association of School Superintendents (NASS)

Ed Leader 21 Member

Illinois & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD/ILASCD),

Illinois & American Association of School Business Officials (IASBO),

The Horace Mann League of the USA,

Rotary Club of Deerfield, IL (Secretary 2014-16)

Advisory board member for the Digital Consortium (AASA)

2016 Superintendent Advisory Council - Center for Digital Education

Member Education Advisory Board - Hon. Bob Dold, U.S. Congressman 10th District

Member of Community Advisory Committee on Education – Rep. Scott Drury (IL-58th)

Twitter http://twitter.com/mikelubelfeld

Bilingual (English/Spanish)

Enrolled in intensive Spanish language and Mexican culture classes at the Cuauhnahuac Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico; lived with Mexican family, 1992



INSPRA video website

NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) Superintendents to Watch 2015-2016

2016 LifeTouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic represented the AASA

NASS (National Assn of School Superintendents) Superintendent of the Year 2015 Finalist

INSPRA (IL Chapter NSPRA) 2014 Distinguished Service Award of Excellence - Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education

The science labs won the Learning by Design Award for “Outstanding Project” in the Spring of 2016 as well as an Award of Merit in the Exhibition of Educational Environments Awards at the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Association of School Boards, and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials in 2015.  


DPS109 Science lab project was featured:

Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995


Additional -podcasts and edu talk radio interviews

Quoted in:

Gravel. R.J. (2015). Discover, Acknowledge, Commit: Guidelines for Adopting Administrative Software. School Administrator, December, 44-45.

DPS109 Science lab project was featured:

Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)

Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995

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