Controlling the Variables – This is the fourth blog of a 10 part series
It was more than five decades ago that The Beach Boys penned the song, “Wouldn’t it be nice?” The lyrics in this song imagined being able to control external barriers so that the desired outcome (in this case, to be married) could be achieved. It would certainly seem to make life easier if we could control all the variables, wouldn’t it? Imagine schools that could wave a magic wand and ensure that all students arrived at school everyday having eaten a wholesome breakfast, had woken from a good night’s sleep, and were cared for by parents with all the resources needed to provide their children with opportunities, experiences, and expectations for success. Students would arrive to school buildings that were clean, state-of-the-art places of learning with all the technology, equipment, and supplies required to support education for all children. Wouldn’t it be nice?
YES, it would be nice. The good news is educators do control variables! The fourth IEE belief is that the adults in every school control all of the variables necessary to ensure success for all students.
The key is that adults control “all the variables necessary”, not that we control all the variables. Educators are powerless to change the socio-economic status of the communities they serve, the education level of students’ parents or the home lives of its students. The good news is that adults can control what happens in the classroom and in the school. Those two factors are by far the most significant in determining student success.
Research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most when it comes to a student’s academic performance. Teacher effectiveness is the most important factor impacting student success. The second most important factor is the building principal. These educators are the adults who control enough of the variables to level the playing field. They tip the scales and outweigh the external variables that they cannot control.
So, what might happen in your school if adults focused on the variables over which you have control? What might be the result of spending time and energy on teaching and learning, creating a caring and supportive environment as opposed to bemoaning situations (variables) over which we have little or no control?