Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Recipe for a Successful School

As much as I'd like to tell you differently, there exists no recipe for success. I occasionally have visitors from other schools who come to observe particular teachers or programs at my school. I, likewise, have visited numerous schools to do the same. Occasionally questions arise regarding the ever-elusive recipe: How do you do it? How can my school do this? What are the steps you took to put this in place? How can my school make it work? The truth is, even if a recipe from one school existed, it wouldn't necessarily work in another school. While there certainly are key ingredients that figure into the mix, there simply is no secret recipe. If there were, wouldn't everyone simply reproduce the conditions as directed by the recipe?

If there is no recipe then, how does a faculty or an admin team or an educational leader move a school closer to "success?" Certainly there must be good teachers present, and a vision cast by leadership, and a plan for what happens in classrooms, and attention to details like assessments and student work, and cooperation from as many parents as possible, and the list goes on and on. However, variables such as stakeholder expectations, school culture, school mission statement, and more muddy the waters.

I've wrestled with the ideas of the secret ingredient and the secret formula and the magical recipe but they do not exist. The best I've come up with is this: take some of the key ingredients listed above, allow for all sorts of variable including but not limited to those above, stir in a heaping helping of good judgment and decision-making, add a pinch (or a handful) of good leadership, pour in some quality professional development, reduce the class size when possible, sprinkle in some creativity, and you will be off to a good start.

It sure would be easier with a recipe, wouldn't it?

2 comments:

Azugner said...

Nathan,
You are right there, is no secret recipe for having schools being successful, rather there are just key ingredients. I think one that is very important is that of being consistent. Knowing that no matter what the outcomes for discipline or regulations for they school they must always be fair and consistent. This not only occurs in one’s school or classroom but at any school function as well.
I believe that this is one of the major foundations for success to happen. For me I am currently employed by a district that lacks this important foundation. Due to not being present we constantly run into problems with students misbehaving and boundaries being tested. Now in order for this to work you do have to have good teachers, parent buy-in and much more. However when all of this is present a school has a much greater rate of success.
As a teacher leader I know that my district is lacking with the idea of teacher leadership. A vast majority of my colleagues are frustrated and gripe about their jobs which is a very sad situation but one that many districts face. It is my job as a leader to help aide in the process of helping solve some of these problems in order for my school to reach its potential.
Andrew

Michael Parent, Ed.D said...

Funny thing is that the Gates Foundation and other edu-corps believe that we can all be successful if we just follow their recipes.

I agree each school needs its own flavoring. Discipline and consistency are key, but only allow for success to grow from their base.

I wish the steak knife salesmen from edu-corps would stop seeing everything through the same lens.