Spanning Boundaries in Changing Self, Site and Sector: Cross-Departmental Community Engagement in Denver Public Schools
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CitationMascarenaz, Landon Lewis. 2015. Spanning Boundaries in Changing Self, Site and Sector: Cross-Departmental Community Engagement in Denver Public Schools. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractMy capstone is an exploration into stages of boundary spanning and the challenges that result from attempting to work at the intersection of a critical power relationship: the school district and the community it serves. Denver Public Schools (DPS) recently unveiled the Denver Plan 2020, a strategic plan to lead the system towards the promise of “Great Schools in Every Neighborhood.” To embrace these goals, DPS announced an internal reorganization and committed to dramatic improvement alongside its community partners (charters, advocacy groups, political leaders and others).
As a resident at DPS, I led as a boundary spanner between the Office of School Reform and Innovation (OSRI) and the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) to facilitate stronger community engagement to achieve Denver Plan goals. Boundary spanning roles and teams process information, coordinate tasks between groups and represent teams externally, “linking organizational structure to environmental elements…buffering, moderating or influencing the environment” (Aldrich and Herker, 1977). My research concentrated on boundary spanning as an act to manage the relationship between internal and external authorization environments, boundary spanning in systems undergoing transition with “blended boundaries” (Scott, 2000) and developing boundary spanning capacity in myself and others.
During the phases of the residency, I engaged in developmental leadership activities, both planned and unplanned, to build individual, team and networked team boundary spanning ability. The effectiveness of this work is measured by the largest of these projects, the Great Schools Community Conversations, which brought together teams across the district to engage the community.
Various implications include recognition of limited ability to extend boundary spanning authorization to others and mitigated efficacy as activity approached the power relationship between the community and district without full authorization. Boundary spanning also represents a potential opportunity to manage fluctuating environments (with special relevance to portfolio school systems). I contend that given changes in the education sector and importance of managing shifting authorizing environments future transformational leaders ought to be deliberately trained to operate as boundary spanners. I argue that further research is needed to distinguish between general collaboration activities and boundary spanning. I also conclude that my calling is to help build and support education systems worthy of the communities they serve.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16645023