I found this video clip when reading a post by George Lucas, filmmaker and founder of The George Lucas Educational Foundation, publisher of Edutopia titled Education: the single most important job. In it he talks about the need for educators to harness the power of the Internet to experience a force that is revolutionizing education and offering opportunities to reach and engage diverse learners.
George asks "What is more powerful in education than a student who is guided by an adult who truly cares — someone who knows your name, who encourages you, and is committed to your success in life?", then points to this recent video from Edutopia which shows a once failing middle school in Charlotte, North Carolina, that invested in research-based teaching strategies and is now on the rise.
While the context is far away from where I live and work in New Zealand, the principles espoused by the teacher who is interviewed in the video ring true for me as I reflect on expeiences in the schools I've been working with in recent years. This young teacher identified four steps that she and her colleagues at the school worked through on their way to turning the school around:
- Get the right people – "if you aren't here for the kids, then perhaps this isn't the place for you."
- Look at what's happening in the classroom and why the students aren't getting it – in other words, reflect, gather data, critically review and be prepared to ask the hard questions about your practice.
- Change what you're doing – based on that reflection and research.
- Create a professional development plan that is consistent and research-based, that caters for the wide range of needs of staff.
I couldn't have thought of a better list – the central focus must be our teaching, and the building of releationships with our learners.
The final piece of advice from this young teacher;
"You have to be intentional about building relationships wiht your students so that they'll want to be successful!"
What would be on your list of strategies for turning around a poorly performing school? How would you sum up your advice? Would it be any different to what this young teacher suggests?