Friday, January 9, 2015

Being a School of Excellence is a Choice

Student success is a non-negotiable in every school, but there is a stark difference between ineffective and effective schools.  All schools have a goal of guaranteeing the success of every student, but effective schools deliver on that guarantee by creating the necessary teamwork to reach that goal.  Ineffective schools have rhetoric.  Effective schools have results.  Ineffective schools have action, but effective schools have action that is purposeful and precise.

If you think about it, effective schools view themselves as living breathing organisms, and they view every person within the organization as a vital part of the organism.   After all, every person has a direct impact on kids.  If all staff members within an organization are vital to student success, then we must recognize that effective schools must focus on the effectiveness of teachers as the primary factor that impacts student success.  

Schools of excellence are living organisms.  A living organism survives because all of its organs, tissues and cells have specific functions that work interdependently to not only help the living system survive but thrive.  Excellent schools don't survive.  They thrive, and the leaders of these schools (both formal and informal leaders) mine for expertise and greatness in every person within the organization.  And when the expertise is found, these leaders empower the expert, whoever it may be, to lead their peers toward excellence. In essence, excellent organizations have a distinct desire to constantly convert followers into leaders.  When everyone is leading their area of expertise as well as learning from each others' expertise, then every person is leading and everyone is growing.  When every person is learning, then ultimately every adult is guaranteeing success for every child and every adult.

So How Do We Reach Excellence?
The notion of school improvement can no longer rest on the back of the lone leader telling everyone what to do.  If we want every student to truly reach their unique pinnacle of excellence, then every teacher, teacher leader, coach, campus administrator and district administrator must put their heart and soul into collectively creating a living system that guarantees the excellence of every educator first.  When a school can create a system that thrives on producing excellent educators committed to the success of all kids, then I'm pretty sure that student achievement will take care of itself.

Creating a school of excellence isn't easy, but it is a choice that we all must make, especially if we want to turn the rhetoric of "All Kids" into actual results.

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