“One person with a belief is equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.”
– John Stuart Mill
As individuals and collectively as organizations, we all make decisions based on our beliefs and our values. As educators, the hundreds of decisions we make every single day have an enormous impact on the lives of students. Coaches and leaders at The Institute for Excellence in Education (IEE) have spent time engaged in dialogue and discussion to identify the beliefs that govern our decisions and actions. These ten beliefs form the bedrock of our work with schools across the state and nation.
- All decisions in schools must be made by placing the needs of students first.
- Relationships matter a lot and they must be established with students and colleagues.
- All deep sustainable school improvement and change must take place from the inside out.
- The adults in every school control all of the variables necessary to ensure success for all students.
- The quality of adult conversations in schools mediates student success.
- Collaboration is not optional. It is absolutely essential to meet the needs of 21st century learners and collaboration is a skill that must be learned and practiced.
- Individuals’ behaviors are governed by the identities and beliefs they hold.
- Data must consistently and consciously guide decisions around teaching and learning.
- There is not a curriculum, a program, or a strategy that can be a substitute for effective teaching.
- Coaching supports teachers and administrators as they become self-directed, reflective learners.
This blog series will highlight each of IEE’s beliefs beginning with the first one: All decisions in schools must be made by placing the needs of students first.
Educational researchers estimate that the average classroom teacher makes 1,500 decisions every single day! When the teacher’s choices in making those decisions is based on what’s best for kids, it has a far-reaching impact. A teacher’s decision to offer a smile, to encourage, to challenge, to build a relationship, often tips the scale for a student and literally “makes a student’s day”. Some of those teacher’s decisions are perhaps fairly easy ones to make. Other decisions, especially those at the district and building level, are sometimes difficult choices with weighty consequences. Do we place the students’ needs first when budget cuts are required or when the schedule requires educators to plan another prep for intervention, homeroom, or other programming? Are the students’ needs considered first when setting starting and ending times each day, assigning homework, creating bus schedules and deciding on curriculum/resource selections?
Placing the needs of the students first generally requires a fearsome commitment to do so and the voice, of at least one person, who holds the moral compass and courage to continually ask, “Is this what’s best for kids?”
What decisions will you make today? Will they be what is best for kids? What might be some decisions your building or district is facing? Might you be the advocate for placing students first?
Click here to read about our second belief.