Monday, January 11, 2010

Secrets to Success

There is never one single factor that is at the core of a successful school: no one structure, set of policies, or curriculum. If there were then every school would be using them, school are complex organisms that can't be changed easily. There are characteristics that all share.
1. They teach their students. They concentrate on student learning, what they need to learn and how to make sure they are learning it. They never accept "I taught it, but the kids just didn't get it."
2. They don't teach to the state tests. The state standards are important and students should be prepared for the tests, that is only fair, but what is taught should not be limited to the state standards, just tied to them.
3. They have high expectations for their students. The students will achieve what they are expected to achieve. When empathy becomes sympathy expectations get lowered.
4. They embrace and use all the data they can. By looking at state assessments and local assessments schools can draw a conclusion on how to better instruct their students.
5. They constantly reexamine what they are doing. Tradition is never the sole reason you do something. It is difficult for some teachers to change practices and patterns, however, it only makes sense to change instructional methods as times change.
6. They are accountable. They realize the obligation they have to their students and the community, we are preparing students for their future and their next step in life.
7. They use school time wisely. School time is for instruction and that is sacred time. Students need to be engaged in productive activities most of the time.
8. They like kids. Schools should never treat their greatest asset students with contempt. Students and parents are treated with respect.
9. Principals are a constant presence. They don't hide in their office, they are in the halls, cafeteria, and classrooms.
10. They provide teachers with the time to plan and work collaboratively. When teachers get together they often find they are a valuable resource to one another and need to work together for the betterment of the school.
11. They think seriously about professional development. Staying current with trends and preparing students for the 21st Century is our responsibility. They allow teachers to attend meetings and bring people in to keep staff current.
12. They are nice places to work. How do you feel when you walk into a building, does it give a warm feeling or a guarded feeling? This is even reflected with the office staff, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, as well as the teachers.

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