In response to the post, “The Great Ones Outwork Everyone Else – Part 2,” a reader writes: I agree that we must remediate or remove the “Non-compliants” in our field. To my knowledge the field of education seems to be the one field where those who “won’t do” are allowed to stay. It seems like an Artist would rise to the challenges no matter what surrounds them, but if the Novice and Technician need to be surrounded by those who engage in “purposeful work” my question is HOW do we get people who just show up, to just leave? SC ResponseYour comment raises a couple of good discussion points. First, I can’t say that we are the only field that tolerates those that “won’t do,” but many in our profession act as if “won’t do,” is a right that should be protected. The idea that just showing up fulfils our professional obligation is a cancer that is much more threatening to the future of public education that any campaign our opponents can wage against us. Note: In this upcoming election, if you don’t vote, if public education isn’t your litmus test, you are just making your job even more difficult than it already is. Second, in most settings, where there is no meaningful support and focus for teachers, the Artist (created by nature) can rise above, but soon leaves to find other Artists. I believe that Artist are born and can also be made. If you too believe this, then as a leader, a critical job function is to build a system that inducts, indoctrinates, trains, supports and builds Artists. This doesn’t mean that everyone can becomes an Artists, it just means that if I can reduce the odds of having an Artist on my campus from 1 in a 1000, to 1 in a 100, everyone in the system benefits. Third, how do we get the people who show up, to just leave? The simple answer is that you quit letting them hide in the shadows of the organization. The standard model in most school systems is that I show up, I tell everybody how hard I work, I find some anecdotal evidence to advertise as proof of my success, and I have a ready list of excuses and scapegoats to explain away any failures or lack of performance that comes from my area of responsibility. This is a textbook recipe for creating a doom loop. The continuous improvement model is pure transparency. We set ambitious goals (rarely happens); we track mission critical data (rarely happens); we post our personal data (rarely happens); we problem solve, as teams and individuals, based on what the data reveals (rarely happens); we repeat the process six to twelve times a year (rarely happens). In this environment, those “who do” flourish, those who “won’t do” simply leave. But here is the kicker; the continuous improvement model is the mortal enemy of the adult convenience model. Thus making leadership the catalyst for change, which gives you the following focus / results matrix:

Formal Leadership Focus Informal Leadership Focus Result
Continuous Improvement Continuous Improvement Increased Student Opportunity
Continuous Improvement Adult Comfort War of Attrition / Race Against Time
Adult Comfort Continuous Improvement Inconsistent Success / Slow Decline
Adult Comfort Adult Comfort Decreased Student Opportunity / Students Better Served in Another School or District

Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…

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