Too often, schools are trapped inside cycles of belief that they are working on school improvement when in reality very little changes year-over-year. Does this sound familiar? It is time to shift this paradigm. School transformation efforts often fail because the typical school improvement playbook does not fully consider and appreciate what levers can actually drive transformational change. The approach to school improvement is often overly-complicated, compliance-driven, and based on outdated or inaccurate data. Instead, schools can rely on evidence based research demonstrating what does work to improve schools. At PLC Associates, we offer a robust research base on “what works in schools” and practitioners with pragmatic experience who deeply know the work. This is exactly why our models and strategies have such solid results.
Your organization has just been officially placed on the school improvement or district accountability list. As a leader, this likely comes as no surprise to you. In fact, you may have already taken steps over the last several months to make significant improvements around climate, instruction, curriculum, and leadership. However, for your staff, and likely the rest of the community, this announcement can be jarring and bring a range of emotions - embarrassment, discouragement, and even anger. That said, it is critically important that you actively take steps now to set the foundation for future success – for your students, staff, and community. Moreover, you should be mindful about how you engage with your community, how they perceive your ability to manage your organization through the improvement process, and how they might take ownership of an improvement process that will build critical momentum. To that end, here are five concrete actions you should take within the first 45 days.
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Surveys should be a part of every school’s planning. As a former school district administrator responsible for surveys, I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do. Above all else, creating a listening culture in your school or district can transform your next initiative and your overall results in supporting student success.
Feedback has the ability to strengthen your new initiative or culture. But give a lousy survey, and you can set your school or district back in terms of trust, and you may lose the ability to gather important input in the future. Don’t turn a positive opportunity into a negative.
When working on surveys for a large school district, I heard it all. We don’t trust you with our survey data. What did you do with last year’s survey? This survey takes too long. What am I supposed to do with this survey data? Often when these responses arise, it’s due to poor survey design, poor follow through, and a less-than-authentic approach – all of which can erode trust and lead to unsupported claims.
Addressing the staffing shortage in public schools may seem like running a marathon barefoot, uphill, and in the sweltering sun. When faced with an ever-expanding school and district improvement checklist, it’s human nature to pick the seemingly more manageable task first. Why not run the morning mile on the padded track instead of the impossible race?