In response to the posts addressing, “Instructional Discussions,” a reader writes:

“I have yet to learn how to mandate excellence. Once you have a vision, like the LYS crew does, you have to find a way to achieve excellence. One way is to get buy-in. I have mixed feelings on buy-in. I am not against having it, but I am against spending too much time developing it. Why in education do we expect people to buy into the jobs they have been contracted and paid to do?

The other approach is to have measurable expectations and to hold people accountable. Identify the non-negotiable issues up front and do not falter. My advice is to use a combination. Get as much buy-in as you can as quickly as you can but don’t fixate on it.

Warning: In terribly dysfunctional schools you are likely to get ZERO buy-in.

Once you have the buy-in you are going to get, set expectations and hold people accountable. How much time should you spend getting buy-in? Some say a year. I have never seen a high school where the students could spare a year. This is a balancing act that is part of the art of leadership, so there is no formula. Ideally I would work on buy-in and training over the summer and hit the ground running with expectations when school starts.”

SC Response
Sounds like the voice of experience. You touch on two very important points. First, buy-in is over-rated and actually doesn’t mean anything. Tell me that I don’t have to come to work but you will still send me a paycheck and you have 100% of my buy-in. Everything beyond that point is simply a function of higher order economic metrics. Instead, I’m a believer in the “do / don’t do” proposition. “Do” and you live to fight another day, “don’t do” and rapidly become obsolete.

Second, as adults we have all the time in the world. Our students do not. And as the world get flatter and hungrier; every instructional second becomes even more precious.

Finally, define the success of your organization by the success of your most academically fragile students and you will not only quickly solve your “buy-in” issues, but you will also separate your campus and/or district from your demographic peers. You don’t need to mandate excellence once you start out performing your neighbors.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…