Holacracy for schools

Holacracy for schools

From hierarchy to Holacracy

Last week we wrote an article about Holacracy, which you can read here. But what would adopting Holacracy mean for a school in particular?

A school adopting Holacracy as a structural system within which organisations get things done I believe will find itself relieved of the many, many tensions it experiences in all its structural levels. Teachers will be freed to make decisions through sense and respond towards their learners, and head teachers or principals will no longer have to carry the burden of managing many tensions. I see the practice of Holacracy in a school as a way to also relieve the mess (see fig A, below) that is created by many departments to solve real complexities or tensions experienced in schools today. Departments in a school which practices Holacracy will evolve into the new system, allowing much faster response time to tensions and an outburst of creative problem solving and innovation will occur. As power to make decisions is spread across the organisation and teachers are empowered to find the necessary solutions to the very real tensions they experience on a daily basis.

The classroom within a school has become more and more complex, in order for teachers to deal with this complexity it is crucial they are freed to make their own judgements autonomously without having to look for permission by the principal, manager or department. Teachers are well trained and educated today to deal with the daily challenges they face. This is how Holacracy will support both teachers and management in schools.

It gives teachers permission to act as autonomous self functioning adults. Instead of outside departments or principals telling teachers what to do, it places trust in our teachers to make the necessary decisions and support the children they are in contact with on a daily basis. Part of the overwhelm teachers feel is a result of the command and control management which exists in our schools today. This old style of management in schools is continuously adding tasks and increasing the to do list for teachers, thus completely missing the purpose of schools today.

The Governance meetings in Holacracy is a very important feature allowing people in the organisation to work on the organisation instead of only focusing on working in the organisation. Working in the organisation is felt by the increased number of tasks given to teachers which are utterly nonsensical when we stop to reflect on the actual purpose of the teachers role. (see fig A, below) Through governance meetings teachers get to clarify what their role needs to do in order to fulfill the purpose of their business. Both managers and teachers are relieved from the unequal human relationships that teachers and principals function under ‘the parent child dynamic’  Both shall meet with equal respect and approach their business through a much healthier adult relationship based on equality and mutual respect of their roles. Governance meetings are a complete paradigm shift for schools as the work achieved during meeting times will be far more efficient and realistic as it is coming directly from the teachers who feel the tension and can offer the solutions as opposed to a top down approach by an individual so far removed from the everyday real life of a classroom. 

Below is an example of expectations placed on teachers under the current hierarchical management system. (Fig A) My observation of schools today is that the red is the crucial part of schools as an organism. That is where the life is, and where the real learning takes place in the human interactions. This is what we in Teal School shall focus on and take away all of the blue tasks which we believe are are result of an overstretched system. Our schools are in this situation today because of an outdated, outmoded system, and we are never going to relieve the system of its disease unless we reinvent schools and ask the question what is a school today?


Fig A, The role of the teacher in traditional schools.

If everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.
Malcolm Gladwell
What the dog saw


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