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Do your schools have these habits? They should.

Teacher and student in classroom

There’s only one month left in 2016. Can you believe it?

Now’s the time to take stock of the achievements your schools have made this year, and plan how you’ll improve in the New Year.

Certainly, understanding the concerns of your staff and community will help you identify what needs your focus. But, so too will comparing your district to others.

Recently, in Ed Tech Magazine, former teacher and tech strategist Eric Patnoudes put together a list of the traits that successful schools share.

Patnoudes gathered the list from discussions with more than 150 school administrators in California.

As you plan the next steps for your district, check to see if your schools share some of these habits with great schools.

1. Work across silos

We’ve said it before: In any organization, especially schools, silos are inevitable.

“These silos can lead to misaligned priorities, lack of information flow, reduced morale and disjointed decision making,” writes Patnoudes.

The test of a good school is whether it makes silos work rather than allowing them to block progress.

The most successful schools respect that silos can spur specialized talent (e.g., IT specialists or communications teams) to do great work, but they also understand the importance of getting the entire staff to work together toward the same goals.

2. Set long-term goals and work backward from there

Given the short tenures of superintendents and the changing nature of education, it can be tough to plan too far ahead. But it’s essential.

Patnoudes says the best schools plan several years ahead and then work backward to develop a plan to realize their goals:

“Too often schools get money, buy a bunch of stuff, put out some fires, and then start planning year two of their initiative. This has to stop. Create a vision of what you want teaching and learning to look like three to five years from now, then plan backward and put in the necessary steps to ensure these goals are met.”

3. Distinguish between training and professional development

Training is the “how-to” side of professional development—like how to use a specific tool, software, or website.

Professional development, on the other hand, writes Patnoudes, teaches the “why.” It gives teachers the tools to question existing strategies, develop their own approaches, and use technology to enhance how they engage students.

Are you simply training your staff, or are you giving them the opportunity to think outside the box and develop new strategies?

4. Principals need to be well-trained and given the power to implement change

The best districts give principals the power to affect change in their schools while also holding them accountable, writes Patnoudes.

Good principals are well-trained, practical, and empowered. And, the most impactful superintendents hold “principals accountable for being champions of change.”

This change refers not only to how principals communicate with their staff, it also addresses how they engage with their community and how they implement new technological and teaching strategies that impact student success.

How do you stack up? Are you working to make these habits in your district? Tell us in the comments.

Looking for more information about how to keep improving your schools? Read Why your schools are losing market share.

About the Author

Todd Kominiak
Todd is Managing Editor of TrustED. Email: tkominiak@k12insight.com.

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