Monday, November 12, 2012

Big Boom or Big Fizzle?

Recently, while walking on the beach in Florida I overheard an enlightened conversation about the “big boom theory”, where a cataclysmic event of some type was needed to shake up the conversation of what is going on in life. It made no sense to me, because if there were, in fact, a “big boom” or cataclysmic event there wouldn’t be any life on earth to have a conversation?!

But, it left me thinking seriously about the need for a change in thinking and direction in the world regarding certain things, such as leadership for education, society, our nations financial woes and other potential things. Since my expertise revolves around a 38 years in education, I would stress the leadership component of this discussion is critical for me. 

We need a “big boom”, a “shake up” - or my favorite- "a paradigm shift" in our schools to bring them into a true 21st Century vehicle of success for our students. Not the kind being legislated by our political honchos. And, how do we accomplish such an endeavor? By, doing some of the following:

  1. A Challenge. Create an overwhelmingly challenging goal to move student achievement ahead, exponentially.
  2. Hire and fire. Find the right people to drive the agenda. First, look within the school community for talented, driven teachers and supervisors willing to work a challenge. Second, place them in a position to move the agenda forward, even if you need to violate a contractual agreement with a bargaining unit that is protecting apathy in the ranks. Third, if there are no willing participants to move the agenda, find people outside of the school organization. There are many people looking for work nowadays, and some are hungry for a challenge.
  3. Advocacy. Convince the parents and the greater school community of the need for this challenge, and keep them periodically informed of your progress.
  4. Be present, and everywhere throughout the school organization as a mentor and coach to move the agenda.
  5. Mandate that all faculty, regardless of certification, are responsible for teaching literacy, including reading and writing. Synergy matters.
  6. Celebrate, commiserate, and provide feedback, but don’t relent on the mission, no matter how difficult the critiques, the grievances and controversies are. 
  7. Results, results, results will change the world, and better prepare students for the future.

Creating a big boom in education requires dynamic people who are not interested in maintaining the status quo. These are difficult times in education, and they require dynamic leaders willing to make a difference. 

Don’t let your “big boom” be a “whimper of smoke”.

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