Friday, November 26, 2004

Simple advice to improve your school.

Peter Drucker, the business philosopher's, advice is simple and powerful, identify the things that are working well in your organization, school or classroom, and concentrate on these.

Then look for things that do not work or have never worked, or the things that have outlived their usefulness, or are just a waste of time and energy. Ask all involved what is getting in their way and wasting lots of valuable time for little result. Stop doing these things.

Then focus on the half successes, the half failures; the things that have been partly successful. Try to determine what precisely has been unsuccessful and decide is it worth fixing up otherwise stop doing it.

As I visit schools I am often appalled by the elaborate systems that have been invented (usually by those no longer in the classroom) which divert busy teachers from their core work – helping students learn!

It might be a great idea to set up a group of people to look at all school documents to see which ones are never, or rarely, used and ones that waste valuable time. As one wise principal once told me, ‘Teachers have two valuable assets their time and energy, waste this on bullshit and the quality of teaching suffers.’

Then reduce all remaining documents, where possible, to one or two sides of an A4 piece of paper. As de Bono says, ‘Simplicity focuses attention, complexity causes confusion.’

To decide what is important, spend time will all involved determining exactly what the mission, purpose or vision is for your school. Then spend time thinking about the values that you want underpin your vision and then define your basic teaching beliefs.

One this is done, ensure the knowledge that relates to the vision, held in the heads of everyone, is shared with all. Then hold everyone to the agreed expectations.

Follow this advice, continually improve, and you have a ‘learning organization’.

But to begin this process you have to jettison all the things that aren’t working. Great organizations are run by clarity of purpose and minimum of paper.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great advice - far too much 'BS' in education these days.