What is “school improvement” anyway? Is it improving achievement based on a state’s requirements? Is it changing the culture of the school? Is it literacy and math night attendance? Is it updated resources and quality teaching? Or, for you, is it all of these?
Regardless of the articles you read, or websites you search, there is a consensus that any good improvement effort includes structures that will transform a current system into something better. These include: a vision, plans, collaboration, data use, accountability, and investment in professional capital.
What are each of these things and how do we not just write them down, but own them, live them and be accountable to them daily? That willingness to really change something may be the key to successful improvement and I mean improvement of anything: a school, a district, yourself, personal relationships, job performance, a skill you want to learn.
So where does someone start on an improvement journey? I was thinking about this from a personal perspective and whether I used these structures as I was trying to change the dynamic of my relationship with my children; you know be a better mom and not a manager. So, I asked myself the following questions:
- Did I have a vision for what I wanted the outcome to be?
- Did I have a plan? Were my intentions clear?
- Was I collaborating with my kids on this journey?
- Was I collecting check-in data to see how things were going?
- Was I being accountable to myself and them?
- Did I invest in my own learning to do better?
An improvement process can be for anything we want to improve: our schools, our districts, our relationships with teachers, parents and students, school drop off and pick up…the ways this process can be used are endless. But we must use a PROCESS. An idea and hope won’t get it done.
Take a minute to get real with yourself about your improvement efforts.
What are you good at? Making plans? Identifying data points?
Where do you struggle? The follow-through? Monitoring? Staying on plan?
We all have strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to build a team that picks up where we leave off, who have the strengths we lack, and who help us stay true to our vision and see it through. Spend some time thinking about who you surround yourself with and whether they help support making a vision reality.
I want to close with offering the following resources as you continue your improvement journey this year. Make it a great one.
Tracy Vetack, Director SST 13
You can also find these resources at SST13.org under “Systems for School Improvement”