Sustainable School Reform


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This is Alan Blankstein's text Failure is NOT an Option, Chapter 5. This chapter is about creating common visions and goals that work and are better than good to ensure successful schooling.

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Sustainable School Reform

  1. 1. Creating Sustainable Systematic School Change Wafa Hozien, Ph.D. Virginia State University Based on the Book: Why Failure Is Not An Option
  2. 2. Principle 1: Common Mission, Vision, Values and Goals CHAPTER 5
  3. 3. “It takes more than toughness to keep going when the going gets tough. It’s vital that you find purpose and significance in what you do.” - Kouzes and Posner, 2010
  4. 4. • Teachers working collaboratively with the principal lead to the greatest gains for students (Brown, Choi & Herman, 2011) and the guiding force for effective collaboration is the leadership team.
  5. 5. • The key insight that has emerged in recent years is that for leaders to be successful, leadership is essential. Creating a high-performing team that is able to shape school culture and guide improvement in instruction is the key to sustainable student success. • This approach:  Builds collective teacher efficacy  Enhances performance in math and literacy Team Building
  6. 6.  Eliminates a sense of isolation and “brings out the energy that exists naturally within people”  Fully engages staff and students who move from compliance to collective commitment  Spreads the responsibility of leadership to a team that is better able to lead the enterprise than any one person  Saves money on external, off-the shelf “solutions”, replacing them with solutions generated from the internal capacity to take on virtually any challenge Colloboration
  7. 7. Clarifying Culture • “Culture” is best understood as “the way things are done around here.”
  8. 8. Developing the Leadership Team • • • • • • • • Represent the entire school building community Constitute itself Create meaningful protocols Align its focus with SMART goals for the organization and choose a starting point Determine the process and framework for action Choose tools and align them with the focus and framework Create engagement reentry plans Return, report, and refine the new learning as it becomes the norm
  9. 9. The 21st Century Mission • A mission statement should be created and published as a means of giving those involved with the organization a clear understanding of its purpose for existence.
  10. 10. What a Good Mission Looks Like • The best mission statements are clear about why the organization exists and what will be done to ensure that the purpose is met. The mission statement serves the organization by providing specifics about 1. What do we want to do? 2. How will we know if we are succeeding? 3. What will we do to ensure success?
  11. 11. Effective Mission Statements Traditional Mission Statements… Effective Mission Statements… Are vague or generic Are clear Say all kids can learn Are specific (what exactly are students supposed to learn?) Do not define learning Are measurable (how do we know students have learned?) Do not address the possibility of failure Provide for failure (how do we respond when students don’t learn?)
  12. 12. Ways to Collaboratively Create a Mission Statement 1. 2. 3. 4. Assemble a task force Collect the views of each stakeholder group Small-group work A “snowball” method
  13. 13. Sustaining Success • Display the mission statement prominently within the school in places where the school presents itself to the public • Make sure the mission is cited as a guide whenever staff meets to set goals, plan programs, make decisions, or discuss problems. • Coach teacher leaders in using the mission as a guiding force in their team meetings
  14. 14. • Frequently evaluate the school’s policies and procedures to ensure their adherence to the mission. • Schedule time to familiarize new staff and students with the mission. • Respond quickly and correctly to any and all failures to act in accordance with the school’s mission. • Formally review and update your mission every four to five years, or sooner, in the case of fundamental shifts in educational demands.
  15. 15. The Vision • The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. Kouzes and Posner, 2010
  16. 16. What Good Vision Statements Look Like Traditional Vision Statements… Effective Vision Statements… Are vague or unimaginable Are realistic, clear, and compelling Are created by a select group Have broad-based buy in State hope and wishes Describe intended change Are soon forgotten Guide action
  17. 17. Eight Ways for an Organization to Arrive at a Vision Method Definition Advantage Disadvantage Inherit a vision Use what’s already there There is no need to go through the periodic, introspective turmoil of crafting a vision The vision was engraved in the granite of the past, whereas faculty come from the present and the students must be prepared for the future. Explicate a vision Make overt what has been covert by putting it in writing. The vision is comfortable, genuine, and already existing. This doesn’t ask, “What would we like to be doing in the future?” Waking a sleeping baby often causes noise- we uncover what we don’t want to hear.
  18. 18. Method Definition Advantage Disadvantage Refine a Vision Take inventory of past practice, present aspirations, and tune up for the 21st century The vision is pragmatic; it has something in it for everyone This can become an exercise in putting new patches on a defective tire. Buy a Vision Use one from a “model” Most are rich, coherent, and fundamentally different from business as usual; those who don’t like it can “shoot” at the creator rather than each other. Looking outside reinforces the belief that those inside are unable to get their own house in order, perpetuating a sense of helplessness
  19. 19. Method Definition Advantage Disadvantage Inflict a Vision A person or office outside the school supplies the vision It can come quickly and be uniformly and impressively portrayed throughout the district Teachers and principals are gifted and talented at offering superficial compliance to an imposed ideology while at the same time thwarting it Hire a Vision When things aren’t going well, get a new principal with a better vision Change in leadership may bring a change in culture The principal’s vision equals the school’s vision, which sustains the paternalistic feeling that “This is the principal’s vision, not ours.”
  20. 20. Method Definition Advantage Disadvantage Homogenize a Vision Invite major constituencies to reveal their personal mission; common elements become the school’s mission. There is little in the final vision that is not in the vision of each contributor; little is unfamiliar or threatening. People feel there is much for their personal vision that is not in the school vision and so lose interest; the least common denominator excludes out-of-thebox thinking (often the fresh, innovative, and most promising ideas of a few individuals) Grow a Vision Members of the school community devise a process for examining their school, and then create together a vision that provides a profound sense of purpose each of its members. The collective vision emerges from the personal visions of each member. It enlists and reflects not the common thinking, but the best thinking, beliefs, ideals, and ideas of the entire school community. It is time-consuming; individuals must dig deep to come to grips with personal vision.
  21. 21. • The following information must be gathered in preparation for creating a vision: 1. Relevant information about the school or district 2. Research on school culture 3. Research on characteristics of high-performing schools and districts 4. Research on school change and reculturing 5. An honest assessment of the current conditions in the school or district Creating Vision
  22. 22. The Values: What Are They? • Values are the attitudes and behaviors an organization embraces; they represent commitments we make regarding how we will behave on a daily basis in order to become the school we want to be.
  23. 23. Successful Statement of Values… • …touches on the most pertinent, pervasive principles shared by a school’s stakeholders • …a statement of values that captures only core beliefs must be relatively brief • …the values of a school articulate what “we will” do and how “we will” behave
  24. 24. 1. 2. 3. 4. Few in number Direct and simply stated Focused on behaviors, not beliefs; and Linked to the vision statement Effective Values Are
  25. 25. The Goals • We must replace complex, long-term plans with simpler plans that focus on actual teaching lessons and units created in true “learning communities” that promote team-based, short-term thought and action. (Shmoker, 2004)
  26. 26. • …provide a detailed, short-term orientation for us in relation to our vision; • … identify priorities and establish a timeline for our process of change; • …break our long, winding journey toward school improvement into manageable, measurable steps • … provide intermittent reinforcement for our efforts and provide us with feedback on our progress toward the larger vision • …provide a detailed, short-term orientation for us in relation to our vision • …establish accountability for stakeholders, ensuring that what needs to happen actually does happen Goals
  28. 28. Celebrating Successes Guidelines for Celebrating Success: •Take steps that help assure the celebrations are deemed fair •Tie celebrations explicitly to organizational vision, values, and goals •Design celebrations that are attainable by all staff members •For formal celebrations, communicate in advance the likely outcomes for success •Make the celebration widely accessible
  29. 29. • Arrange for both formal and informal celebrations • Do not use celebrations to make direct or indirect comparisons between high-and-low-achieving staff members • Be specific about the nature of the successes • Use stories and be human • Build sustainability and community into the celebratory process by allowing staff and students to eventually take it over
  30. 30. • What is the process involved in building a leadership team? • List the steps that you will incorporate so as to ensure a shared vision of your organization. • What successes will you celebrate in your organization? • How do you plan on celebrating successes in your organization? Discussion Questions
  31. 31. • Blankstein, Alan M. (2004). Failure Is Not an Option: Six Principles That Advance Student Achievement in Highly Effective Schools. Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin. References