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On Friday our company Founder and the President/CEO offered a video message to reflect on 2012, to carry messages from our company-wide institute this fall, to look forward to 2013, and to share a holiday message. They asked that we share with our respective leaders “takeaways important to [us]” because:

This ensures we are all up to date with communications, and by sharing we internalize our own takeaways and our leader understands our thought process for development. 

Similarly, in a CEO panel Question and Answer session I attended in November in Atlanta, GA, a representative from an Illinois university in the audience asked three questions to the six CEO panelists:

1. What are we doing in education that is right that helps you achieve your goals?

2. What could we do better in education?

3. What do we need to do in education in the future in terms of training the next generation of leaders?

The university representative’s questions follow the Founder and CEO’s video message to “communicate” and “internalize our… takeaways” (i.e., what is important to us and our goals – 1 and 2 above) and describe “our thought process for development” (i.e., what do we need to do in future – 3 above). This is what it means for educational 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 and new teacher preparation:

  • Connect/Reconnect with teachers and school districts. Our company’s Founder reminds us that if we’re bringing a solution to them then we’re helping. That is, it is one’s human responsibility to provide the solution if he/she has the solution to help another. This means (in terms of 3 above) providing alternative ways to develop and deliver our tools and techniques so that they have access to them when they need it.
  • (2 above) 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. Everything begins with Mission, Vision, and Values. Center on teachers and leaders; center on students. Our focus is to maximize human potential to increase student learning.
  • (1 above) 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. Create a culture of ownership – where all employees engage in critical thinking and problem solving – building a sense of ownership and breaking down silos.

The key in connecting both of these reflections is that as individuals – as teachers, as leaders, as educators, as employees, and employers – we want to bring value to the individuals we engage with whether our colleagues, our partners, or those we service or those that serve us.

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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 teachers to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.