Game Changers | Learn | Future Schools
What do we mean by performance? What lies at the heart of how great schools do what they do?
Let’s start by thinking about the performance of a school. What is the “secret sauce” of high-performance schools? Good schools get the fundamentals right and focus on the whole education of the whole person. Great schools assemble the ingredients of high-performance culture in delivering this education. They consistently demonstrate an increasing propensity towards inspiring, challenging, and supporting students to fulfil their potential to be young people of character and competency. They can identify the ‘secret sauce’ of aspirations, a sense of kinship, and pathways to success, and apply this to a culture of inspiration, challenge, and support. This culture fosters both the pursuit of excellence by young people of character, and the sense of belonging to and engagement in school. It keeps them in their groove and holds them to the educational purpose of desired graduate outcomes based on 21C civic, performance and moral character competencies.
The journey of becoming for a student is, therefore, a story of change and growth through the experience of gaining the mastery of our essential competencies based on civic, performance, and moral character, as well as the attainment of the learning habits of self-efficacy and adaptive expertise required to thrive in 21C. It is all about change, transformative change - changing the world one student at a time and one school at a time. Across the world, we never see effective, meaningful and good change occur other than through intimate, compassionate, and energetic agency from within the heart of a school and its interconnected relationships, values, and exchange of value propositions. Schools change themselves; systems don’t.
How do great schools transform themselves? They do so by functioning as authentic, mature, and high performing communities of inquiry and practice. So a great school should track, gather evidence about, and evaluate its organisational maturity as a fit for purpose school of character. It should conduct this measurement of its high performance both in terms of the learning experiences and graduate outcomes of its students, as well as in its operation as a learning organisation. To do this, they should interrogate six key components of an excellent 21C education:
The character, climate and culture of the school
The leadership of the educational programs
The effectiveness of teachers in growing the ‘whole person’
The effectiveness of student educational experiences and outcomes
The alignment of strategy and operations with respect to character education
The nature of teacher professionalism in a community of inquiry and practice dedicated to the attainment of its desired graduate outcomes based on 21C civic, performance, and moral character competencies.
And what really fuels transformation in schools throughout all of the six components is the work of teachers. All of the international research of the past three decades points to teachers as having the greatest impact on student outcomes, so long as they are invested in what they do. This is usually grounded within strong relationships of character apprenticeship and evidenced by their work in attaining mastery of equivalent competencies to those of their students and advanced habits of self-efficacy and adaptive expertise.
Good schools get the fundamentals right and focus on the whole education of the whole person. Great schools assemble the ingredients of high-performance culture in delivering this education.
How can we best help teachers to acquire this mastery? How do we help them to become invested and to have the right impact? We know that programs of professional learning within growth-minded culture are critical. Yet, too often we see a lack of specificity in the personalisation of pathways for individual development of teachers. Simply coaching colleagues is not enough. So what model should we use?
Understanding how to tune a process of performance development for teachers to their situation and needs by balancing impact with investment and offering personalised pathways may well be key knowledge for Future Schools need to ensure that their educators are actually bringing about the necessary change that characterises all good learning and development.