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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What Do Good Schools Do?

As I think about schools across our nation, I am thinking about what good schools do.

Good Schools are Positive Places of Learning and Development
Good schools are positive, happy places that embrace every individual with promise and good service. Good schools recognize that students learn better with positive, personalized, and sensitive support.

Good Schools Promote Voice and Choice for All Members of the Learning Community
Good schools include processes where all members of the learning community including students, families, educators, staff, leaders, and community members have voice and choice with regard to their position and mission in the learning environment. These organizations foster a shared leadership approach and maximize the "collective genius" of the organization with good process and communication.

Good Schools Employ Optimal Communication
For the most part good schools employ optimal communication process where the information is accessible, forthcoming, inclusive, and comprehensive. At any time in these organizations all members should be able to identify what the organization has done, what it is currently doing, and what its plans for the future are. Little time is wasted looking for information or trying to figure out who does what or what happened, since most information is regularly, transparently shared.

Good Schools Use Good Process
These good schools don't stay mired in old think or slow, inefficient, and exclusive process. Instead these school identify processes that invite discussion, debate, research, development, and a sensitive approach to all individuals in the system. These systems are not afraid to problem solve and seek the best supports and processes in this regard. As part of these processes, good schools take a close look at what they do and assess and revise their efforts regularly.

Good Schools Have Sufficient, Timely, and Traditional Structure and Resources
Good schools are "homes away from home" where students feel comfortable. In these schools students have what they need with regard to structure and resources to learn well. These schools have flexible, facile infrastructure, clean, welcoming structures, responsive schedules, and apt tools for learning such as paper/pencils, tech equipment, online/offline books, math manipulatives, maker stations, and more.

Good Schools Provide Physical and Emotional Health Services
Students in these schools use their health cards to access top notch health care at school. Counseling and physical health services once paid for by school systems will now be supported by students' health agencies. While this will create added paperwork, I think it will be a win-win for health insurance companies, health agencies, and students since students will receive regular, timely care in their schools. Health care today is often compromised because of access and finances, and this could be a win-win with regard to these issues.

Good Schools Teach the Whole Child
Good schools know that teaching and learning well is not a race. Instead it's a mission to serve the whole child. In this regard, good schools pay attention to the attributes of teaching the whole child well and lifelong learning competencies.

In our world that can sometimes be faulted for too much isolation and lack of community, schools, in the broad sense of the term, hold the key for supporting and serving children well. These schools will vary in structure, personnel, and focus dependent on context, but all of these schools will have the common denominator with regard to teaching students to grow and develop well with regard to their own desires and pursuits and as part of our democracy, communities, and families.