John L. O’Connor tells “Reformers: Stop Doing These 4 Things.” Here are the four things to avoid according to O’Connor:
- Discontinue Ineffective Professional Development Activities
- Stop Developing Massive School Improvement Plans
- Stop Focusing on Structural Changes as the End Goal
- Stop Focusing on Changing “Culture”
Normally these types of articles don’t grip me much, but O’Connor’s final “don’t do” item captures my attention. I find the attempt to change culture with schedule changes and intervention programs a futile effort, especially when my administrators attach the idea of building relationships with students.
I repeatedly hear how important it is to have relationships built with students, but then no one helps teachers do this. We all know which teachers struggle to build these relationships, but they are never provided methods or approaches to help. Now, I don’t think every teacher will be great at this, but an effort can be made.
I find relationships critical to success in the classroom, but along with that improved instruction is what will create culture change and classroom success. Classroom instruction is a critically important element. If students are given rote, boring, tedious, or uninspired lessons and activities in the classroom, they will despise being there. Inspired lesson planning can create interest, excitement, and desire.
Improving what happens in the classroom–namely relationship building and lesson planning–will change culture and improve student achievement. Most of the rest is just huffing and puffing and trying to blow down the piggy’s brick house.