Rowland Foundation Summer Institute for Vermont Teachers

Course dates: July 31 - August 11, 2017
Meeting on campus: July 31 - August 4 (8:00 - 3:00 pm)
Michael Martin

EDLP 380: Leading School Transformation

"We perpetuate conformity and standardization. Schools reflect habits of mind and practice that we collude with. Nowhere does it say that there need to be subjects taught in 45-minute classes eight times a day. When it comes to school transformation, we are like the caged bird that doesn’t fly away even when you open the door."
—from Sir Ken Robinson's keynote address at the Rowland Foundation Conference on High School Transformation, The University of Vermont, September 22, 2011. 

Course Description

Social media and technology have changed the way we communicate, the way we work, and the way we learn. Of course, this has enormous implications for our schools in the coming years. 

Leading School Transformation (EDLP 380) is a graduate-level course that brings together educators who are leading transformation efforts in Vermont schools. The course will connect research literature and the Rowland Foundation Transformation Conference at UVM with current transformation efforts underway in Vermont. Through professional dialogue, personal reflection, and related readings, participants will refine strategies for transformation efforts in their own schools. After the course, participants will be able to continue the weeklong seminar's learning in an online forum that includes the growing network of Rowland Foundation educators.

Course Learning Goals:

  • Why do schools need to change in the coming years? 
  • What are the unique advantages & challenges of the Vermont education policy landscape?
  • What is the relationship between learner identity and engagement?
  • What changes occur when we think of teachers as learners instead of employees?
  • How can we avoid common pitfalls in leading school change efforts?
  • What is "Zen Presentation"?

Course Guidelines

  • Due to the intense weeklong seminar format, participants will attend each day of the course.
  • Participants will actively contribute to class discussions and participate in course learning activities.
  • Participants will model cultural competence and exhibit respect for each other.
  • Participants will bring an open mind to new ideas and use tuning protocols, as well as other group structures, to be productive members of a professional learning community.
  • Participants will take an active role in their learning and seek to connect the research literature to their professional practice.

Course Work

(Additional details and assessment rubrics to be provided in class.)

Before the course begins, participants will read The Big Picture by Dennis Littky, Drive by Daniel Pink, and Switch by Heath & Heath as an introduction to school transformation themes. Course participants will also write a reading response for each book.

Final Group Presentation
In this culminating project, participants will use research, change strategies, and presentation skills studied in the course to present a specific transformation theme to a particular stakeholder audience. For example, the target audience could be a meeting of school board directors, faculty members, or department colleagues. Possible transformation themes include technology & social media, integrated learning, authentic assessment, community connections, or personalized learning.

Class Participation
Participants will self-assess their class participation according to these three criteria:

  • collaboration & teamwork
  • establishing connections between research & professional practice
  • active listening
  • positive contributions to the professional learning community
  • applying new learning

Article & Research Presentations
Each participant in the course will be responsible for presenting a brief analysis of an assigned article as well as a book chapter of their choice. The presenter will be responsible for sharing the reading to the class in a brief format that will answer the following questions:

  • What are the main ideas and salient points from the reading?
  • What is the author's perspective or bias?
  • What is the "juiciest" quote, statistic, or example from the reading?
  • What are the implications for your professional practice? What are the takeaways for your school?

Final Course Reflection
This final piece of work is an opportunity for participants to bring together aspects and construct meaning from new learning in the course, notably from:

  • Course readings
  • Course presentations (in style and substance)
  • Course discussions with fellow educators
  • New insights into professional practice


Pre-reading 20%
Article Presentation 10%
Research Presentation 10%
Final Zen Presentation 30%
Class Participation 20%
Final Course Reflection 10%

Religious Observance

The official policy for excused absences for religious holidays: Students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. Each semester students should submit in writing to their instructors by the end of the second full week of classes their documented religious holiday schedule for the semester. Faculty must permit students who miss work for the purpose of religious observance to make up this work.

Academic Honesty & Professionalism

All students are required to be familiar with and adhere to the “Academic Honesty Policy Procedures” .


Accommodations will be provided to eligible students with disabilities. Please obtain an accommodation letter from the ACCESS office and see one of the instructors early in the course to discuss what accommodations will be necessary. If you are unfamiliar with ACCESS, visit their websiteto learn more about the services they provide.  ACESS:  A—170 Living Learning Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405.  PH:  802-656-7753, TTY:  call 711 (relay), Fax:  802-656-0739, Email:, Instant Messenger:  UVMaccess.  General office hours:  8:30am - 4:30pm Monday through Friday.  Call to make an appointment.

Course Calendar

Pre-meeting Coursework

The Big Picture (Littky), Drive (Pink) and Switch (Heath & Heath) Reading reflection for each text.

July 31 - August 4: On-campus Class Meeting Times & Agenda UVM Summer Institute Agenda
August 4 - 11:     Post-meeting Coursework
Forum Post: learning community
Course Reflection

Required Course Texts

(to purchase and read prior to class)

Littky, D. (2004) The Big Picture: Education is Everyone’s Business. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Pink, D. (2011) Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010) Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. New York, NY: Broadway Books


"This course was a very important course in building my leadership capacity. I continue to use the thinking, resources, and skills that I developed in Leading School Transformation. It remains one the best courses that I've ever had the pleasure of taking."
—Mike McRaith, Principal of Montpelier High School
"Mike Martin taught me the importance of clearly communicating and articulating a vision. The products I made for this course were immediately useful in my work leading educational change at my school."
—Andrew Jones, Director of Curriculum for Mill River Union School District
"Mike's course was inspiring, thought-provoking, and motivating. At a time when Vermont is knee-deep in educational change, this course helped me understand first and second order change and how to move forward with both by focusing on the bright spots while respecting the expertise of everyone in your organization."
—Lori Lisai, Teacher & Tech Integrationist at Lamoille Union Middle & High School
"Leading School Transformation grounded me as I began my Rowland Fellowship, providing the opportunity to dig into school culture, student motivation, systems change and so much more. At an extremely practical level, this course took my professional presentation game to a new level."
—Jeanie Phillips, Green Mountain High School Librarian & SRI Certified Facilitator
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