Usually, when I tell people that I work in School Improvement, people’s eyes begin to gloss over with boredom. On the outside, it might seem like an endless stream of required reports and data – the things no one chose a career in education for. Before I became a member of a School Improvement Team, I thought the additional work was daunting and had little value to what I was doing in my classroom. It seemed like a polished, unrealistic plan of what we would like to be, not a roadmap of how to get there. But the truth is, when everyone invests in the School Improvement process, it can be a roadmap to success.
Here are three important questions to consider if you are committed to making systematic changes in your school:
What is our current reality? Stakeholders, who are teachers, parents, board members, administration, and community members, need to ask themselves: Who are the students we are serving? What do students need to become college and career ready? Are the programs we have in place working for them? What are our outcomes? Does the data support the programming? In many cases the current reality shows that changes need to be made.
Where are we going and who will lead us there? Every successful school has a strong leader working behind the scenes to make it flourish. The school leader works as a champion of the children, a cheerleader for the teachers, and a sounding board for the parents. They do this always with a vision in their head of where the school is going and how they are going to lead it in that direction. Leaders are the ones that read the roadmap and make sure no one veers off the designated path.
How do we get there? What are the steps we need to take to implement the vision? How do we get from here to there? This includes training teachers in new programs, implementing the programs in the classrooms, developing enrichment programs that work for the students and the community, monitoring the fidelity of all initiatives, and evaluating their effectiveness. It isn’t going to happen overnight, and in some cases true School Improvement can take several years. But the results can be amazing!
Having a true commitment to the School Improvement process is the key. A commitment of time needs to be set aside every month where there can be a laser-focus on data and learning outcomes. A necessary commitment from all stakeholders to be active participants in the process ensures success for all students.
It is exciting to see true transformations happen, and we have so many shining examples of it within Choice Schools Associates and MIChoice. If you are in need of assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are proud to be evolving schools into some of the best Michigan has to offer!