August 2017

After many years of working to improve student success we all have looked for the fountain of success. Colleges, high schools and elementary have been on the quest to improve for many years. A focus on public and private schools has always been on graduates. Looking at the success of this target has not been met primarily in our large city public schools. Especially with student minorities who have registered high drop out rates. Some accrediting organizations for colleges have set criteria for acceptable student retention.  Any retention levels with below this criterion puts the school’s accreditation in jeopardy.

Professionals sit around tables and talk strategy on how to develop the best possible student retention in our colleges each academic year.  Time goes on with special programs, surveys, looking at companies who consult schools on how to create better student retention, best practices and it goes on each year.  It would be great if we had that magic wall switch to turn on the retention button.  In the school business the most dramatic changes to improvement continue to be back to the basics.  Our biggest challenging question is why would a student stay in school?  Their initial commitment is with an enrollment and a major financial commitment to complete a personal vision.  Can a college keep this vision and drive alive even in the face of adversity?

Here it is! The magic switch is—YOU!  No matter how we say it “instructors, teachers or faculty”, you are the answer to a students desire to learn and succeed.  No student starts their day not wanting to succeed.  Experiencing success is contagious and teachers who can deliver this opportunity have students wanting to come to class.  You are the number one contact with the student.  Communication and relationship with the student creates this success potential. The role of teacher combining the right methods for the diversity of a classroom is a challenge a great teacher strives to accomplish.

For over forty years my experiences have presented me with the opportunity to observe some very talented teachers.  Many of these teachers worked in very adverse situations but were extremely successful with students.  Why!! Think about it!  What are the natural things that would make you want to continue to attend class?  These are the same for your students.

There is no magic in school success. Leaders in successful schools can tell you the performance of their professionals are the key to outstanding outcomes for their students. A major factor in our day to day activities is how we meet expectations of our students and help them to love learning. Our professional staff come to each school with different experiences, professional training and how they see their role as a teacher. A teacher is an individual with expectations of what learning should be for their students. Clearly expectations today do not come from a cohesive homogeneous group of students in the classroom. Our higher education classrooms are attended by new high school graduates, transfer students from other schools, adults who have not been in school for up to six to ten years and industry people who have been laid off or looking for a promotion. Elementary and secondary education classrooms are attended by students with many different learning styles, students who are challenging because of their high achievement potentials, students with developmental lags from lack luster educational experiences, cultural differences and social economic distress.

A great school understands all of these challenges and promotes an atmosphere of caring and understanding. High achieving teachers understand the expectations and continue to seek professional development which helps them to perform at a higher level. Schools need to be clear on what the expectations are for the professional teaching. All expectations should result in better opportunities for students to have growth outcomes.

A successful school at any level is to invests in teachers and students. Performance is a key to both achieving and improving your end outcomes. Education is a people business that requires this investment.

Being cognizant that this is a people business we must take very seriously our hiring practices. It is not a credential only driven selection process for a teacher. Teachers in schools need qualities in empathy, knowledge, listening, consistency, commitment, ethics, energy, teaching methodology and a lifelong learning commitment. Hiring right from the beginning will provide the first step to a successful school. Today there are assessment tools that can be used to qualify your candidate. The assessment alone is not the sole factor but it does give you guidance to ask the right questions in the interview process. I am familiar with an organization that has done remarkable work in this area of assessment. Muno, Summers & Associates have been assisting schools in actually creating profiles for assessment tools to measure many of the attributes of a successful teacher. A school cannot afford to make bad hiring decisions.

Great hiring requires us to be prepared to measure performance and make intelligent coaching decisions for further professional development for teachers. Like many professions we can look at vital signs for measuring to see what kind of assistance our teachers may need. Three areas that correlate to student success is student retention, student attendance and pass fail rates in courses. This data allows to bench mark expectations and have your teaching staff review their outcomes to expected targets. This process of coaching and measurement will provide a healthy environment of learning for better as a teaching.

These ideas for your school are without question necessary points of necessity to improve your school.  I have one more suggestion for you to take a look at for building a better school. As leaders in your school focus should always be on what we do best. Schools are for learning. This is why people come to us.

No matter who the students are we are teaching the success result is our ability to understand our student strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge of the antecedent behavior of a student to improve future success behavior is how we build a lesson plan for them that works. Teaching to the masses does not meet the needs of the individual students in your classroom.

Building a classroom with a strong foundation of education requires great teaching. Successful teachers a demonstrated the methods and techniques for how this works.


BY: Gary R. Carlson

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