Good to Great: School Edition
It has taken a while, but I have finally finished Good to Great by Jim Collins. The world of education shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the business world's findings concerning the development of a great organization.
One of the frameworks Collins explores is "First Who...Then What." Collins writes, "We found...that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats--and then figured out where to drive it" (13). He notes that with the right people on board, motivational problems disappear (42).
The first important gem for struggling schools lies in the mining of the right people. No quick fix exists for schools long entrenched with the status quo, yet as the old guard moves into retirement, struggling schools must make greater strides in attracting and retaining energetic, relationship focused men and women who understand that without the ability to connect on a human level, the content will never pass through the pipeline. The right teachers believe in the mission and are determined not to fail where others have failed before.
Secondly, struggling schools need the ability to move the wrong people out of the schools. Who are the wrong people? The wrong people have tunnel vision and lack creativity. They fail to buy into the mission (though they may be talented) and are willing to coast or rest on their laurels.
As important as having the right people in the organization, the leaders must put those teachers into the correct positions of leadership and the right classrooms. Some teachers have great success at moving the lowest performers quickly towards proficiency. Some teachers have great success at refining the highest performers carefully towards excellence. Some teachers are quite happy going about their business. Some teachers are never satisfied with their current business.
Until schools get these principles, they will never reach greatness.