Clarifying Two Key Problems in Schools

September 19, 2014

Public education and schools are complex systems that may appear to vary from school to school, city to city, and country to country. Nevertheless, in my book, New Hope for Schools, I identify two key systemic problems, 19+1=18 and Tower of Babel.


If school quality is 19, and a new policy is added top down, school quality goes down to 18. It’s a cycle of increasing negative outcomes. Here’s how it works:

  • There are more and more external demands on teachers.
  • Teachers become less able to address their own students’ learning needs.
  • School quality goes down.

Then, desperate new policies are mandated every year –too quickly for teachers and schools to keep up. Over three years, the process can be illustrated as 19 +1 = 18 … 17 …16.

Tower of Babel:

School decision makers speak different languages because they have different expertise. Experienced teachers know how to teach. Administrators manage school business. Educational scholars know how to theorize. Educational lawmakers know law. These are very different skills.

New Hope for Schools explains this in detail, with examples. It provides new “systems” theory and a new, user-friendly participatory practice–the RoundTable– to clarify and address these problems.


Let’s talk about New Hope for Schools!

September 12, 2014

Hi, and welcome!  My name is Sue Gabriele, author of New Hope for Schools: Findings of a Teacher Turned Detective.  I’m so happy to have you as a visitor to my blog about my new book.  This project is very special to me, and I hope to share some of that excitement with you here.

New Hope for Schools tells my story of how I developed the GEMS RoundTable, then a three-pronged approach for systemic school (and workplace) renewal.  Rather than systemic change, my approach is systemic renewal to foster change/enrichment/transformation that comes from within the organization, and from within the individual.

I’ll be using this blog to interact with you about New Hope for Schools, expanding on some of the topics in it and posting on some of the ideas related to my book.  This is a great place for you to get to know me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you, too.

What did you think of New Hope for Schools?  What questions do you have for me?  How do you relate to my book?

I’ll be returning here frequently with new posts and responses to feedback from you.

Until next time, please tell me a little bit about yourself.  Thank you!

ISSS RoundTable 2012 (draft1)

June 29, 2012

FACILITATOR GUIDE (about 300 wds, or 2.5 minutes read aloud)

(At 7:30 a.m. begin. Don’t read words in parentheses.)

1. Welcome, to our twelfth annual ISSS Morning Reflection RoundTable. My name is ___, and I am today’s facilitator. We propose to suspend judgment and experience this together without stopping for 60 minutes today, then every day this week. After the conference or on the last day, we can discuss its value for us, and consider possible revisions and applications. Is there anyone here for the first time? Welcome, we are glad you are here! (Be sure new people have RoundTable Guides). Let’s take one minute and go around the room for initial introductions–about three words: your name, country, field of work. (Cue the person on your left). Read the rest of this entry »


January 21, 2011


Origin of the ISSS
The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) is among the first and oldest organizations devoted to interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature of complex systems, and remains perhaps the most broadly inclusive. The Society was initially conceived in 1954 at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard, and Anatol Rapoport. In collaboration with James Grier Miller, it was formally established as an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1956. Originally founded as the Society for General Systems Research, the society adopted its current name in 1988 to reflect its broadening scope. Read the rest of this entry »


January 21, 2011



OUR FORMAT.  In the 60 minute RoundTable, we allot 5 minutes to readings, and 55 minutes to hearing individual comments–time distributed equally among all present. We rotate the facilitator role to experience different facilitator styles. In one short hour, we hear twenty-plus points of view around topics of interest. We believe that just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 20 authentic viewpoints in 60 minutes (and 5 different facilitators over the week.) Read the rest of this entry »


January 21, 2011

ISSS ROUNDTABLE 2011- FACILITATOR GUIDE, different facilitator each session

(At 7:45 a.m. begin. Don’t read words in parentheses.)

1. Welcome, to our tenth annual ISSS Morning Reflection RoundTable. My name is ___, and I am today’s facilitator. We propose to suspend judgment and experience this together without stopping for 60 minutes today, then every day this week. Outside of the session, we will talk with each other to determine its value for us, and to consider possible revisions and applications. For our reflection today, I’ll suggest the topic __  (see bottom of page). Read the rest of this entry »

Revising ISSS RoundTable for 2011

August 26, 2010

OVERVIEW: Revising ISSS RoundTable for 2011

Hello friends of ISSS RoundTable.

Many of you have told me you would like to be on the 2011 RoundTable Revision Team. I have sent you an email directing you to this site. If there are other RoundTable friends who would like to participate, we welcome you, too. You can add your input here, or, if you prefer, you can email your comments to me at or here The words in CAPS are categories on this site. I am not very skilled at wordpress. But here goes! Read the rest of this entry »

RoundTable Proposal: From 30 Minutes to 3 Years

August 5, 2008

Phase 1- 30-minute RoundTable demos to acquaint prospective users
Phase 2- Contract to implement Regular RoundTables (e.g., weekly)
Phase 3- Contract for a 3-YEAR STUDY (below)

RATIONALE: California schools need “systemic solutions” which “would require huge sums of money,” according to a Rand Corporation report (January 4, 2005, Los Angeles Times). A successful systemic solution, also called schoolwide or continuous whole school improvement, is marked by three results: It is emancipatory (accelerating positive learning); sustained, (a regular activity, e.g., weekly) and comprehensive (including all school stakeholders). In practice, current systemic change efforts are user-unfriendly and not achievable, as they require all system members to be at the same level of readiness for change. What is needed is a systemic solution that is also cost-effective and user-friendly. The RoundTable is proposed to fill this need. Read the rest of this entry »

Benefits of Scripts

March 28, 2008

8 Benefits of RoundTable Scripts (i.e.,  Leaders Guide, 5 Basic Readings) 

  1. A Tool for Peer Leadership. They allow rotating facilitation. Even a novice can facilitate.
  2. Surprisingly Unintrusive. They allow all participants and facilitators, novice or expert, to direct their attention to the content of the RoundTable, rather than the process.
  3. Variety of a Different Sort. Even though the same readings may be read at every session, there is a variety of a different sort. As listeners, we hear the scripts read by a half dozen different people every session, and frequently act as reader ourselves. We experience the different reading styles of our fellow members and silently evaluate the effects of each style.  After just five sessions, group members will have experienced 30 people as RoundTable facilitators, instead of only one. We each, in our own ways, may experience a new “take” on leadership qualities, moving towards stewardship as we note that our reading is of service in this way to fellow listeners. Read the rest of this entry »

The Term “Teacher-Proof”: Fallacy & Outcomes

January 29, 2008

Erroneous: The term “Teacher-Proof” implies poor teachers 

  • Purchasers of “teacher-proof” programs agree they have poor teachers.
  • This results in valuing programs difficult to follow without help of a teacher.
  • Even McRel writes that “Notions of creating a “teacher-proof” curriculum – a curriculum so flawless that anyone could teach it – have long since been discredited.”
  • I (and others) say “We have thrown out the baby with the bath water.” Read the rest of this entry »