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Mark of Greatness: Does Your School Exhibit It?

We’re all in search of the perfect K12 school.

Is education technology the key? Can redesigned classrooms transform learning? Will better engagement lead to greater student success?

Try as we might, there’s no clear-cut path to greatness. Changing budgets, shifting demographics, and unique challenges require every school district to set its own goals and develop its own strategies.

But, according to TeachThought’s Terry Heick, there are certain qualities that all great schools strive to embody. If you’re looking to make improvements in your district this summer, focusing on these key traits could make a big difference come next year.

Great schools are focused
The best schools outline a clear set of goals and a comprehensive learning strategy and make those goals and strategies clear to the communities they serve. Schools have to also be adaptable and capable of shifting priorities when necessary, writes Heick. But a clear plan is key.

In terms of teaching, Heick says schools should be focused on making sure students learn how to think, and less so about exactly what they learn – “thought, not content” is one suggestion, he says.

Great schools are compelling
In the classroom, the best schools deploy personalized and innovative learning to keep students engaged.

Outside the classroom, school districts build their brand and tell compelling stories to ensure that community members and students alike stay committed to the mission.

Great schools are future-proof
The best schools adapt to every challenge.

Says Heick: “Put another way, they correct themselves with systems designs and constant injections of disruptive and often uncomfortable thinking.”

The best schools produce graduates who embody the community’s commitment to “expertise, empathy, creativity, and wisdom,” writes Heick.

Great schools are transparent
To achieve true transparency requires having open and honest conversations with the community.

This means constantly inviting feedback from students, parents, teachers, and others and adapting based on that feedback. It also means keeping your community involved and engaged in your decisions

For more, check out Heick’s full list of traits of great schools.

Do you embody these and other hallmarks of greatness in your school or district? Tell us in the comments.

Want to know if the members of your school community see greatness in your work? It wouldn’t hurt to ask them.