It’s another rainy day in Oregon and I continue to hear drops of water pelting at my window. I am lost in thought just after finishing the book School's that Succeed: How Educators Marshal the Power of Systems for Improvement. The rhythm of rain falling on the glass and the content of the book are not unfamiliar, but in combination have provided this reader time for much needed reflection. As a principal of a school in improvement I know “the work” is never truly done, but determining our school’s next steps is always urgently compelling my thoughts forward.
I applaud the work of Karin Chenoweth. In her recent book she shares other leaders steps in their own school improvement journey. At times the work is isolating and to know what others have done that has ultimately changed their students (and staff) trajectory of learning is---well inspiring to this learner. I go back to one of my favorite quotes from UCLA’s head basketball coach John Wooden who said, “It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.” I firmly believe his thinking applies to all educators no matter their role.
What do unexpected schools do to provide equitable learning outcomes for all students no matter what they may or may not bring to start their own life’s story?
· Have teachers who unconditionally believe in students and will do all things conceivable to build a foundation for their student’s future.
· Have leaders who continually create, monitor, and evaluate their school systems that provide a learning culture for their story to take place.
· Have schools that prioritize relationships first as a foundation for all of the above.
· Provide access to rigorous and relevant content developed collaboratively that is student driven and evidence-based.
The rain never truly stops for long periods of time in an Oregon winter. It’s a good thing. The beat continues to remind me of Chenoweth’s closing comments.