Creating "Schools That Learn"
Schools and Healthcare currently pose two mega-challenges of reform in most of the "first world," comparable in scale to the late 20th century challenge of reforming American manufacturing industry. The auto industry (and others) eventually removed the quality gap between Japanese and other producers. Some large companies eventually transformed or were reformed; some others were eliminated.
That was hard; this is harder. Japanese producers modeled a successful production system, but educators and policy makers have no such body of knowledge for a guide. There is no "best practice" to follow; no experts. That uncertainty is compounded by sharp political differences in a system deeply embedded in local and national politics. Everybody is an expert (in their own mind)! School practice and education theories (beliefs, mental models) are deeply enmeshed in social, familial, and cultural customs and constraints. You can close a factory to experiment with new methods but you cannot close schools to retrain teachers and "retool" the system. Public schools are controlled by (and sometimes micromanaged by) elected officials.
While large schools may resemble factories, children are not passive products. They and their families have their own agendas and are subject to major external influences. Yet schools are now held accountable for the test performance of students. Poverty and privilege both bedevil school staff in different ways. All day long teachers face students, responsible for their safety, good conduct, as well as various kinds of learning, struggling to manage their youthful energy and attitudes. School district administration claims to be a resource and buffer but is also a further irritant from the standpoint of school staff.
Those are a few points of context that make schools different from many other types of organization but at some level they (most orgs.) share many common elements of management and leadership.
Teaching and school leadership (like parenting) require both caring/love and discipline, softness and structure. This duality is needed within each person and in organizational structures.
Two cases of schools that have been more successful than most
in reforming are presented here, each in a different format and approach.
School Case A.
IN A COLLAGE OF
School Case B.
With A Few Photos