In Doug Reeves' excellent book The Daily Disciplines of Leadership, he explains that schools that regularly perform at the highest levels are attuned to the antecedents of excellence - those habits and practices that are the foundation that allows students and adults to learn and thrive. The task of school teams is to determine what the antecedents of excellence are and measure their progress in implementing those factors into every day life. Here's my stab at some elements of school life that I believe support learning for everyone.
- Literacy is valued by every member of the school community.
- Growth and progress are celebrated frequently.
- Hard work is valued over intelligence.
- Assessment of student progress and subsequent feedback is constant, integrated into instruction, and contributes to increased motivation to learn for students.
- Reasoning and analysis are evident from school staff, students, and parents
- Content is integrated across disciplines.
- Technology is used to allow students to create content and interact with the world outside the school walls.
- Character is valued equally with academic achievement.
- Clear expectations for behavior are articulated and reinforced.
- Exceptional character is celebrated and honored.
- Disciplinary problems are handled fairly and firmly. These incidents are used as teaching opportunities.
- Failure is considered a necessary prerequisite of learning.
- Grace and Gentleness are evident in all relationships.
- Teachers and administrators share an equal role in leading instructional and school improvement.
- Parents are partners in their children's learning through two way communication and mutual respect.
- Structured social interactions enhance all learning objectives.
- Physical education and the Arts demand the same preparation and rigor as Language Arts and Math.
- Students should be spending the majority of the school day reading and writing authentic texts.
- Non-fiction should be included in 50% of the school day.
All of these antecedents and any that you can come up with should be submitted to the Reeves test of discovery:
It is the hard work of discovery, precisely the same work we expect of our students as they learn to read, explain a proof, or balance a chemical equation... The effective leader recreates those moments regularly, not through instant wisdom and profound judgment but through questions, errors, admission of ignorance, persistent investigation, and eventual discovery.
So, what do you think? What do you believe are some important antecedents of excellence for schools?
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