Faced with constantly mounting pressure from parents and policymakers, leaders at the local, state and national level are constantly pushing for “school reform.”
An urgency that often borders on panic surrounds practitioners from the classroom to the district board room—and despite years of proof that processes are more important than programs in successful schools, decision-makers are still on the never-ending search for a silver bullet to solve flagging high school graduation rates, poor performance on standardized tests, and low levels of student motivation.
What few seem to realize is that reforming schools has little to do with changing programs and everything to do with changing people. Show me a building that has beaten the odds and produced highly motivated, successful students and I’ll show you a faculty with a shared commitment to one another and to a clearly articulated vision of what education should look like.
There is no confusion in these schools about the roles that stakeholders must play in order to guarantee success. Everyone from janitors and secretaries to media specialists and classroom teachers is pulling in the same direction. Conflict is always productive—built on high levels of interpersonal trust and confidence in the good intentions of colleagues—and communication is frequent.
The sense of synergy in successful schools is almost palpable. Evidence of progressive thinking and a commitment to the idea that every child can learn can be found in every classroom on every hallway and at every grade level. Visitors often leave with a renewed sense of pride and confidence in the ability of the American educator.
Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Sure it does. Synergy depends on skilled leaders who understand how to motivate and inspire people with a broad range of personalities and professional expectations—and those are two nearly mythical abilities that just don’t seem to come naturally.
Which is where Anthony Muhammad comes in. An educator for more than 20 years—serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal at both the middle and high school level—Muhammad has diligently worked to define the kinds of strategies that effective leaders take to build synergy in their faculties.
Better yet, he’s taken the time to make his thinking transparent in his new book Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division AND he’s agreed to participate in a four-day focused Voicethread conversation with readers from May 13th through May16th!
So keep your eyes open for more information in the next two weeks. You’ll find everything from a review of Transforming School Culture and an interview with Muhammad to directions for effectively participating in Voicethread conversations.
And pass the word along to anyone who is interested in—or responsible for—transforming school cultures. Everyone’s invited—-and given the pressure on schools today, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of an opportunity to learn from a leader!