Always choose people over programs.

As mentioned in my first post, transformation of any kind starts with what is going on in the heads of the people belonging to the organization – their beliefs. This is because to shift beliefs in the minds of our educators in schools, we must first ignite and inspire their hearts. In my experience, our belief systems drive our daily actions, interactions, and our words.  Therefore, the first belief that I find is vital in beginning to transform schools into learning communities is the belief that your power to create school improvement ALWAYS lies in the right people over programs. Time and time again, we buy into high dollar programs in hopes that this will create the change we need to see in our schools. Then when we don’t see the changes we felt we were promised, we blame the effectiveness of the program.  If the teachers in our schools do not feel they are agents of change, that students success lies in their hands, or that they are not trusted to make important decisions that can increase student learning, improvement WILL never come to fruition.  It is absolutely the Principal’s job to create campus structures to support teacher efficacy, leadership, and voice.  We must create environments where teachers are empowered to quit asking permission to innovate and recognize that this is promoted and expected as a response to students’ needs.  When we continue to allow each other to blame programs, we not only waste money, but worse yet, we perpetuate a culture of weak teacher agency and efficacy.  School transformation is highly dependent upon EMPOWERED educators who thrive off of risk taking and innovation.  This kind of leadership requires vulnerability as it implies you, as the leader, do not have all the answers, but will support establishing the conditions for their success ideas.  Stay tuned for some stories of ways we have tried this…

Below is a picture of our “Let’s Hear It For Our Heroes” event held as a welcome back for our heroes, our teachers, on their first day back from summer break.

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Charting the Journey of Public School Transformation

This blog is the result of years and years of reflection of how to truly transform school into a learning community in which students, teachers, parents, and community are all working together to support student learning. I am often asked how do you go about this enormous task of transforming a school into a community which prioritizes its sole purpose to support student learning.  I will start by sharing that it is always a journey. It must always remain a journey because students change, communities change, and  research shows us higher yield instructional practices.  Having served as a Principal at multiple campuses, I have to come to discover having a understanding of the steps of school transformation is possible.  However, make no mistake school transformation has more to do with belief shifts than it does with check lists and action steps.  Although these are necessary, no action without common and agreed upon beliefs will yield any improvement.  In fact, it will create change for change sake, which, in my experience, creates frustration and resentment.  Here in this blog, I will back up to chart what I have been able to learn about school transformation, as well as journal the continuing journey of creating a learning community within a public school of diverse needs, abilities, beliefs, and backgrounds.