Building Champions for Your Students
Last week, as some organizations celebrated World Teacher's Day, I found myself looking through hundreds of articles from sources of all kinds discussing the future of the profession of educating our students. Overwhelmingly, I was shocked at how many people were using the day to launch their own platform of discussing a job where many are overworked, unhappy, and feeling helpless about the plight of where their career might take them.
It really stirs me to action.
I love the work that I get to do on a daily basis. As a member of the MASSP team, I get to hear the happenings of Michigan schools (the good, the bad, and the great!). As the director of our student programs, I get to have dialogue with educators and students all across the state. Their hopes, their concerns, their willingness to help their school rise to the top. Most of all, I love when I get to facilitate the discussion among these groups, since all three hold valuable stakes in making a school successful in any definition of the word.
I realize that this is a difficult dream to dream. As principals, you're doing more than you've ever done. In most cases, you are doing it with less than you have ever had. And now, you have to make students and teachers effective and successful by the means of a number of standards that you didn't have any say in. It's a world that can make someone who looks to the heart of their staff and students crazy.
But what if you were building CHAMPIONS of education, rather than just teachers and students? What if your students felt like no matter the background--they have a place in YOUR building? What if your teachers felt like they were free to bring their interests into the building in order to make your building a better place? What if all of these factors were ensuring that your building was growing effective and outgoing staff members, as well as a bustling and bright student body?
I think it's possible. In fact, I'd almost guarantee it!
As a part of the Alliance for Student Activities team that built a program called "Do the Math" (www.letxequalsa.com), I have spent the past 18 months researching what it means to build a successful culture for students and staff. I will be presenting some of the findings of this presentation at the MASSP Mid-Year Summits, but I'd also like to share one of my favorites with you today. The Search Institute (www.search-institute.org) of Minnesota came up with an equation for how to make students THRIVE. According to their research, the equation for students who thrive in and out of the equation boils down to three factors:
"Spark"+ Three NON-Parent/Guardian Adult Champions + Opportunity = "THRIVE".
As a principal, how can you provide these things? In my findings, simply remove the barriers to student success! Ask yourself these questions:
- Does my staff know how to look for opportunities to "spark" the interest of a disengaged student?
- What would my building look like if EVERY student had a co-curricular reason to attend?
- What would my building feel like if EACH staff member felt like they were a CHAMPION for our students?
- What would our culture look like if we were lining up opportunities of all kinds in our school?
- What are our barriers to making these opportunities, champions, and "sparks" happen?
At MASSP, we're committed to helping you re-shape the culture of your building, or GROW your culture if you've made strides. I am not a stranger to this community, I realize that the mountain of expectations is not getting shorter, and the river of resources is running at it's lowest levels ever--but I know that we can help you reach the stakeholders in your building. Many things are simply a re-allocation of resources, a shift in a staff paradigm, or even a motivation and recognition program for the students and staff members who are moving these practices to action. In the next couple of months, we will have some awesome resources in our student activities services that you should consider getting involved in:
- Adviser Academy (PERFECT for potential "champion" educators who are involved in co-curriculars).
- Fall Training Institutes (awesome for IGNITING the students who need to be "sparked").
- Individual student and staff development programs available to bring to YOUR building.
(Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
As always, I am proud to serve the students and advisers of Michigan, but I also am passionate beyond words about helping instructional leaders of secondary schools not only build educators in their buildings, but CHAMPIONS for kids who need them. Have an excellent week in your building, keep being great champions yourselves.