OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015 - (Page 6)
ENgagEmENT TakES ChaNgE TO ThE NExT lEvEl
By Michelle Morra-Carlisle
OASBO's bold new theme
and its focus for the
upcoming year. What it really refers to
"Without a doubt, we live in times of
rapid change, constant change," says
Mark Carbone, Chief information Officer
at the Waterloo Region District School
Board (WRDSB). "With higher-thanever demands to deliver change, school
boards are challenged to find business
efficiencies and improvements and
change instructional practices, with fixed
or less funding."
Like most workplaces, school boards
continue looking for ways to do things
better but with the same or fewer
resources than in the past. Revenue
streams are fairly tight. Another reality
is that many aging workers are leaving,
and not all will be replaced.
Even without these added constraints,
improvements are never as easy in practice
as they are in theory. How we do our work,
or change the way we do it, can clash with
stakeholder and end-user expectations.
it seems to be a theme among school
business officials - pressure to do better. Boards must continually improve, just
like any workplace, but are under more
scrutiny, being accountable to students,
parents and the public at large.
A Three-Tier Theme
"Adapt-innovate-Engage is something
that we've been moving toward over the
last three years," says OASBO Executive
Director Bill Blackie. A few years ago, the
association focused on the concept of
innovation and creativity in the education
sector. its next theme - mentorship - was
chosen as a way to move some of those
Then, with all of this change in the
works, it was time to learn how to "adapt"
to change. "innovation continues to be
important," Blackie says, "because you
can't always do things the way you did
them in the past. But then you need to
adapt [to that new work environment
your innovations have created]."
So where does the third element -
"engage" - come in? it has to do with
buy-in. Those people affected by change
in the workplace should, ideally, be active
stakeholders in it. "Staff involvement with
an employer is huge in terms of their productivity," Blackie says, "and the same
applies to school boards."
Technology, for example, is just a
tool. People may be aware that such
wonders exist and can change the way
they work, Blackie says, "but until we
build a rhythm around why and how they
happen it's still kind of stilted."
in another example, the notion of
shared services is sometimes easier said than done. implementing a
means for two or more school boards
to share one purchasing department,
for instance, is more complex than it
sounds. And having one school board
host another school board's web server
looks a lot different in practice than on
paper. it takes a willing, adaptable,
engaged workforce to make such initiatives really work.
Up Close and Personal
A few years back, OASBO tried to
find ways to get people together, even
if not face-to-face. The association did
this through teleconferencing, which
allowed people remote from the Toronto
area to take part in meetings.
But now, Blackie says, it's time to
find other ways to bridge the gap and
better support members in remote
areas. Social networking has certainly
contributed to engagement by allowing people to ask questions and make
suggestions, often via threaded conversations. Several productive conversations later, OASBO is now looking at
other ways to connect people: through
GoToMeeting or Skype for Business, or
videoconferencing if available. These
technologies add a new element: the
ability for participants to not only hear
but also see each other. "if you can see
them, that's huge," Blackie says. "You
begin to build a tighter rapport between
the presenter and the audience."
Progress is already evident, he says,
particularly in the francophone boards'
ability to adopt videoconferencing.
"They use it regularly and quite successfully," he says. "French boards
are very large and diverse and have
become very effective at using videoconferencing for presentations for their
As for the other boards, he hopes to
make the technology work this year.
When that happens, "we're going to find
we're reaching people we wouldn't have
reached before. it will mean that overall, in the province, we will have bigger
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015
2015 William J. Wales Award Winner: Steve Shaw
67th OMC Annual Conference - Kingston
Meet OASBO’s New President
Health & Safety in Schools - What Teachers & Staff Need to Know
Transportation Committee Report
Buyers’ Guide and Trade List
OASBO The Advocate - Fall/Winter 2015