Monta Akin on The 20 Year Deming Journey at the Leander Independent School District

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Monta Akin, Assistant Superintendent for Leander Independent School District in Leander, Texas joined Tripp Babbitt to record the latest podcast for the Deming Institute.

Monta shares the compelling story of Leander Independent School District’s transformation to a Deming based management system. It begins when Monta was first introduced to Deming when she came across the PBS broadcast of Quality or Else and has continued for 20 years.

In the podcast Monta stated:

Deming stated that is it important to “drive out fear” and I always wondered why we aren’t talking about building trust. It didn’t talk me to long to discover fear just creeps into the system unless you are aggressively trying to drive it out.

With teachers she trusted to speak freely, she asked “what is the biggest fear for you as a teacher at our school?”

The same answer came back time and time again and that was the teacher evaluation system and the rating and ranking associated with it.

All the typical things that you would expect from studding Deming’s philosophy were apparent. People stopped collaborating: why would you show your best work when somebody could steal that lesson and [get a good rating, which could then reduce the size of your bonus].

People also would distort the system…

So the Leander school district requested a waiver to eliminate the evaluation from improvement and rewards. There was still an evaluation to determine if teachers were performing their job successfully.

That was huge in terms of gaining buy-in and trust from teachers. They saw that we were listening and we were willing to make changes to the system that will make it better for them.

Related: Deming Today-Leander Texas Independent School DistrictDeming Podcast: David Langford on Improving EducationUsing Control Charts to Aid in Improving the Classroom Learning EnvironmentDeming’s Ideas Applied in High School Education

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