There are so many good things happening in the schools across Texas. As I watch principals, teachers, and superintendents lead, it’s clear that many schools/school districts are taking the initiative to move from providing a one size fits all education to an education that is centered on the needs of each child.
The challenge is to build systems based on the transformation that is taking place in our schools. Building new systems based on a student-centered education will help us ensure the success we are seeing will be sustained over time and not simply left to random chance based on individual teachers, principals, and superintendents.
So, what’s the primary work for school leaders who want to establish systems based on a student-centered education?
- Create a shared vision with teachers, staff, students, and parents that focuses on student needs rather than the scope and sequence of the curriculum and benchmark tests. Our over-reliance on standardized curriculum and assessments over the past 25 years created a bureaucratic system that was based on the needs of the adults, not students. Creating a shared vision around student needs should serve to challenge, inspire, and motivate the school community to based base decisions around student needs and interests.
- Model professional learning by being a learner and collaborator. It’s true in teaching and leading that modeling and demonstrating the behavior and mindset we want from others is a powerful. Absent a leader demonstrating their own commitment to innovation and creativity, leadership becomes very empty and powerless.
- Establish an open culture of collaboration, networking, and problem solving related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Engaged and active teachers need to be encouraged to seek solutions for issues related to their classrooms through opportunities to collaborate with others (on their campus and beyond) so that timely and effective ideas can be tried. Leaders have to help establish systems of collaboration that are convenient and helpful for those teaching and directly serving students.
I am constantly encouraged by the good work I see among teachers and administrators in schools today, and I’m thankful for people committed to creating environments where students and teachers can thrive.