Helping Education Climb Mountains
Guiding leadership on the rocky path of tough choices
All across the globe today, school boards are facing scarce resources and tough choices about how to spend those resources. Dr. Marc Frankel and Triangle Associates, an international consultancy specializing in higher, independent and international education, specializes in governance issues that education leadership faces on a daily basis. “Schools are fragile ecosystems,” Marc says. “At best, they are a coalition of interests.” Aligning those interests and helping them have a constructive dialogue about the future of the school is Marc’s specialty.
Marc has always had a love of counseling the educational leadership in his professional life. “I’ve always liked organizational dynamics as an area of practice,” he says. “I’ve done individual clinical practice in the past ─ a lot of it. We were doing training in the area of higher education working with deans and provosts and others in universities on facilitating change initiatives.”
According to Marc, the relationship between leadership and governing boards often feels like couples’ therapy. You are either trying to save the marriage or sometimes moving towards divorce counseling. He says board dynamics can feel like group therapy at times. “Dealing with parents and teachers is all about the anxiety-ridden nature of modern life and parents fear that the choices they’re making about their kids’ education will have a long-term impact with very little data on which to make those decisions,” he says. “Helping people live with that sort of anxiety is very much the daily application of psychology, and I love doing it in the education world because you can do all of it. I can do it without having to get into a classroom and teach, which is wonderful.”
Marc notes that conversations have shifted and changed drastically over the years, with discussions on technology acting as a perfect example. There’s an accelerated cycle inside schools. When EdTech conversations were starting to pick up steam 20 or 30 years ago, they were concerned with the devices, the infrastructure, and student access. But the questions changed as technology improved, imposing a whole new set of challenges for schools, administrators, and teachers. It led to a proliferation of technology without a lot of thought about what the Return on Investment (ROI) would be.
The conversation keeps evolving, shifting, and growing, according to Marc. “I’m hearing much more reticence on the part of governing boards, school heads, and directors to make a technology play for its own sake,” he says. “They want to know ahead of time what the anticipated impact is going to be before investing precious resources and money.” With smartphones and tablets seemingly everywhere, Marc says we should be using the available technology as a means to accelerate teaching and learning. “All these things have a much bigger impact on teaching and learning than we looked for years ago,” he says.
“We have three kinds of problems that come with technology,” Marc notes. “We have a hardware problem, a software problem, and a mindware problem.”
While the hardware problem and the software problem are fairly straightforward, the mindware problem is more complicated. There tends to be a degree of reticence or hesitation by faculty and schools in adopting EdTech that changes the traditional learning landscape of the classroom.
Marc notes that waiting for a generational shift to accept technology is not the best answer and advocates for keeping on top of change today. He coaches teachers and school administrators to take real leadership positions in their schools providing value to both the board and administration as advisers on technology. The line on EdTech is continuously moving forward, and it takes knowledge and guidance to stay at the forefront of change.
About Dr. Marc T. Frankel:
Marc T. Frankel, Ph. D. is a Senior Consultant and partner in Triangle Associates, an international consultancy specializing in higher, independent and international education. A psychologist by training, Marc facilitates governance workshops, leadership development programs, and strategic planning in the United States and around the world, and coaches numerous senior leaders in universities and independent schools. His clients include schools in Europe, Asia and North America, including large and small institutions and Tier 1 universities.
Among his accomplishments are the development of evaluation methodologies for governing boards and senior academic and administrative leaders, co-founding the School Leadership Institute for the National Association of Independent Schools, and authoring or co-authoring numerous articles and white papers on issues in governance and leadership of schools and universities. Marc is a member of the governing board at the Wildwood School (Los Angeles), and he lives in St. Louis with his wife, Jacqueline. Their son, Alex, lives and works in Los Angeles.
Marc’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Utah, and he completed his Masters and Ph.D. at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Frankel has been part of Triangle Associates for over 18 years.
Marc can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This article was originally published in the Huffington Post
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