Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Defining the "best" (or, we all need some tasty carrots)
How can we move forward as a school to look at another way of defining excellence in education? Clearly some people are already very satisfied with exam results and perhaps don't see the need for changing this focus - yet to change a school, to bring about real improvements for all the students, requires a commitment from everyone in the school - and this commitment will only be forthcoming if individuals are nurtured, appreciated and engaged in planning the changes they are expected to carry out, and if the achievements of all the students are celebrated.
Some time ago I was involved in a meeting where there was a discussion about professional development and how to make teachers move forward. The term used was that many teachers' skills were "obsolete". This idea of moving forward was to get a stick and "make people accountable". I tried to point out that "carrots", incentives, would be more effective. Later I was reading about "hug power" which is the power derived from shared vision, values and beliefs - and how hug power is the most effective way of moving people forward. It's really important for administrators to value the efforts their staff are making, especially as sustainable change can only come about through these people who are shaping the culture of the school.
A few months ago I was at Munich International School for a workshop. There the talk was very much of moving people forward one conversation at a time. What I would like to see is our school taking this one stage further - that the leadership team should engage teachers in ongoing dialogue about moving the school forward (instead of telling us we are already one of the best) and initiating conversations and discussions about new ideas that could improve the school. Above all what is needed is the celebration of successful change and the efforts teachers are making to bring this about (we all need some tasty carrots).
Photo Credit: Carrots by Matt Biddulph