If you have been in any field long enough, you have opportunities to connect and learn from others. Educators are no different. We like to share ideas, learn from each other and seek out the “ones who have figured it out”. But when you look beyond the individual and consider the entire school community, it is much harder to pinpoint the factors that lead to success for the entire school community. School success on a broad sense is where schools develop the human potential of the students in academics, emotional and character traits. It is also where the adults are focused on growth and providing the best for the students through collective efficacy. But what are those schools doing as “keys to school success”? In this blog we share ideas that I have learned from other leaders and combined together to discover what successful schools have in common.
- Culture is key – Most educators recognize culture is important, but it is the MOST important part of successful schools. It represents the cumulative effect of all the behaviors of the students/staff and parents. It also one of the hardest areas to develop or enhance as it takes time and is a process. The culture of the school aligns to the actions and behaviors of the adults within your building – how the staff interacts is how the students will feel. It is important that students feel safe, positive and happy to be there.
- Students are valued and cared for – School is the “job” for our students as that is where they go from age 5 – 18. I cannot imagine going to a place that I did not like or feel appreciated. It is critical that staff get to know students by name, welcome them each day and learn their passions. Great educators recognize that the purpose of our work is WHO we teach, not what we teach. Students should feel like school is home to them.
- Foundational purpose – As society is rapidly changing, so is the rate of change for schools. This may lead to some schools also changing their goals or work frequently until they find “what sticks.” Great schools know their purpose and remain consistent with their work – they simply focus on getting better within those areas over time. Within this work, they remain INTENTIONAL and have a laser like focus.
- Systems and structures in place – All great organizations and teams have clear expectations due to the systems and structures put into place. This allows the staff to not worry about what will happen or when, but rather focus on the “why” and “how”. This is where you move the needle with instruction and growth of the educators.
- The classroom teacher matters – The most influential person to a student is their classroom teacher. This is the person that not only teaches content but will also model character traits and can either support or tear down students. Great schools exist because of great teachers, and when you have great teachers then they will attract other quality teachers and they will stay. This builds a powerful and influential team.
- Shared Leadership – A great principal can have a positive impact upon a school, but when the principal develops other leaders then there is a multiplier effect. The more leaders you have then the more ways your school move forward and meet the needs of students who have diverse needs. It allows the school to function at a much higher level as more staff are “focused on becoming the best for the team, not the best on the team.”
- Partnering with families – Schools exist for educating students and who knows the students the best but their parents. Great schools recognize the importance of engaging families and creating ways to get them into the building so they feel connected to the school, share ideas and concerns, support the work of the school and help drive a positive culture.
True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when leaders work extremely hard to improve their own learning and leads to an improved school. By reflecting upon “Keys to School Success”, leaders can self-analyze if they are spending the right efforts towards the work with staff that will move it forward. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org