Sunday, September 25, 2011
Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”
About six years ago I was hired to work as a teacher in the special education department of a middle school. I was especially excited about this new job because I was relocating from Ohio to Georgia. The person doing the hiring and the person I interviewed with as well as the human resources department and the administrative staff of the middle school were very welcoming. The building was new and this was the school’s second year being in this new building. The students seemed like a good group about 1,900 in the entire school of sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There was a staff of about 200. The special education department served about 200 hundred students with a staff of about twenty. This new school year involved the hiring of other new staff as well about eight of us in the special education department.
One of the strengths of the department was the teaching experience, creativity and commitment of the newly hired staff members The newly hired staff members were from other states and had successful experience working with special education, at-risk and other student populations with behavior challenges and learning differences. Throughout the school year there were many successes in student achievement and behavior improvement. I worked with other team members to develop motivational and awards celebrations for the students, with parent involvement. I also created a guest speaker program to provide students with tips from parents and professionals on how to be successful in learning and in life. However, there was discord on the special education team. While the administration seemed quite welcoming, the “old” staff members seemed hesitant about the “new” staff members. Participation by all stakeholders did not seem to be effective (Greer, 2010).
One of the “new” special education staff members was hired to be the department chair. It soon became evident that two members of the “old” staff were not happy about someone new being hired for the department chair position. These two “old” staff members seemed to have made it a project to sabotage the efforts of the “new” department chair. While it is apparent the administration felt that the “new” staff member was better suited to be department chair, a smooth transition was not made.
A project plan would have been good for the special education department with roles, responsibility and realm of authority assigned and support provided from the administration. This could ensure that the right people are assigned to all project roles (Greer, 2010). Team building would have been useful for the special education staff, since the members had not worked together before. The project manager must do everything in his or capability to quickly form flexible, open, and trust-based working relationships between team members (Portny et al., 2008).
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.