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Last week we joined our parent company for a company-wide “institute” where we were introduced to this year’s new employees and new leaders, invited to learn about service opportunities within the company, provided an opportunity to connect with colleagues, rewarded and recognized outstanding colleagues, and were challenged by the president and CEO as well as the company’s founder:

How do these items relate to your individual position? Where do we see this? It is the demonstration of the [company’s] Vision and Values in our every day work.

Are you “all in”? What’s your vision …? This is my future…

One of the notes that I wrote to myself during one of the presentations was, “Hey! Potential cannot stay on the shelf; it has to move into execution.” What does this mean for me? What does this mean for leaders? What does it mean for our work with school districts?

This is what it means for me at the individual level:

  • Recommit to increase my skills as a leader, educator, researcher, and colleague; that is, be active at all levels in the organization.
  • Reconnect with my leader and ask: Am I meeting your expectations? Is there anything more that I should be doing? Is there anything that I shouldn’t be doing?
  • Communicate with my colleagues: What can I do to make Studer Education a better place for you to work? What can I do to support your efforts? Bring solutions and develop into that trusted advisor.

This is what it means for leaders:

  • Develop the skill that creates a culture that has the agility to adapt to change. Our company’s founder reminds us that “being a culture does not mean having serious adult conversations and letting yourself be heard. Sometimes the best conversations you can have are to help [colleagues] work better.”
  • Recognize that the teacher is the most important variable affecting student learning (see Marzano) which means hiring, coaching, and retaining the best teachers, rewarding and recognizing successful teachers, and supporting teachers to get student learning results that last.
  • Connect the dots for teachers as teachers must connect the dots for students. It’s important that students know what systems are in place, why the systems are important, and the consequences attached to not following them. But before teachers can connect the dots for their students, they need to recognize their own role in allowing these behavior problems. To help you (leaders) connect the dots for teachers, therefore, you must also recognize your role; ask yourself, “What am I permitting, and thus promoting?” What you will discover when you answer this question for yourself may surprise and disappoint you, but when you change your course of action based on your answer you create opportunities to improve.

This is what it means for our work with school districts:

  • Reconnect with teachers and school districts that we have worked with in the past. Our company’s founder reminds us that if we’re bringing a solution to them then we’re helping.
  • Diagnose and provide training plans that fit with needs at the teacher-level, school-level, and/or district-level. Bring solutions and be that trusted advisor.
  • Connect with district leaders and teachers to create school environments where students want to learn and are inspired to achieve, where great teachers want to teach and leaders want to serve, and where parents trust to send their children for an excellent education.

In thinking and talking about values, culture, and behavior our founder challenged us to think about the differences between cheerleading and coaching. He said, “Coaching is not a cheerleading position. Each one of us is a coach. Cheerleading is a big part of coaching… We get them going. But… Cheerleaders tell the team they’re doing a good job even when they’re getting beat. The coaches cheer when they need to cheer, but they demonstrate when there is poor performance.” Just another example of a conversation within the company – our culture – that helps us work better and defines Studer Group as one of the 25 Best Small Companies to Work For by Fortune.

 

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Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and employees to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts as they aim for excellence in every district department and in every school as they strive to improve teacher performance and student achievement. Visit us online at http://studereducation.comto learn more about Studer Education Teacher Development Institutes (TDIs), Leader Development Institutes (LDIs), and Evidence-Based Leadership. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, the recipient of a 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.