In response to the post, “Sustainability,” a LYS Principal writes: Sean, you are spot on with this post. We can expand on your ideas by discussing the difference between school turn-around and school improvement. While at a recent Education Service Center training, the presenters correctly pointed out there is a difference. Yet they failed to differentiate between the two. I will. School turn-around means immediate steps to drastically improve your school, today. As Cain points out, in a turn-around situation you have to get from point A to point B, quickly. If you are in a turnaround scenario, technically there is nothing wrong with implementing improvement scenario ideas. EXCEPT, any time, resources, and effort you put into improvement ideas will necessarily take away from the time, resources, and effort you must put into your turn-around process. After all, time, resources, and effort are a zero sum game. Looking at individual student data is a great idea to improve your school. Once 70% of your students are meeting standards, it is time to focus on improvement ideas. Before 70% of your students are meeting standards, you have systemic instructional issues that must be addressed in a turn-around scenario. BTW, if less than 40% of your students are meeting standards (in any given sub-pop), you very likely have a systemic curriculum problem. Professional Learning Communities are a fantastic idea for improving schools. However, focusing too much time on PLC’s in a turn-around situation is probably a bad idea. Instead, a steady focus on targeted professional development is a better choice in a turnaround scenario. Know (or quickly learn) your school and its needs. Adjust all of your strategies and tactics based on the knowledge. And for the record, based on my recent experiences with Education Service Centers, they are not the ones to rely on if you find yourself in a turn-around scenario. Your best bet is to seek help from Lead Your School. Disclaimer: I am NOT an employee in any shape, form or fashion of LYS. I am and have been a consumer of their services. SC Response So I am working through your comment, mentally checking of the paragraphs: I agree, agree, and agree. Then I get to the PLC paragraph. You hedged your bet. In a turn-around situation (an emergency and crisis leadership environment) the focus on PLC’s is a waste of time and energy. And this is coming from a “PLC Guy.” Instead, focus all your energy and resources on the following:1. Take control of the school. If it looks like a slum or a junkyard, clean it up and haul out the trash (this includes classrooms). If the kids and staff act as if the campus is a zoo, publicly state your discipline expectations (keep it a short, concrete list). Then immediately and continuously monitor and enforce those expectations. 2. Fix the mission critical components of the system. I’ll give you a hint; you need to start with the Foundation Trinity. 3. Improve the adults. This means that adults will teach the scope and sequence, they will work to better implement best practice, they will treat students with respect, and they meet the basic requirements of our profession. This is tough, because each teacher believes that they are not the problem, it is everybody else. Just remember two things: A. If school turn-around’s were easy, anybody could do it. They can’t. B. Good teachers believe that they have to keep learning because they just don’t know enough to truly be effective. Bad teachers believe that they are completely effective and there is nothing left for them to learn. This isn’t just my opinion; it is fact, supported by research. Listen to your teachers, without realizing it, they will quickly self-identify the group to which they belong. 4. Work to maximize student performance, in short time windows. This means work everyday to get better, in three weeks sprints. 5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 at ever increasing speed. Finally, understand that in a true turn-around situation, almost nothing works. So your fixes actually reveal more problems (ISS, credit recovery, tutoring, tardy sweeps, etc.). This makes it seems like things are getting worse in the short run. Which is why a turn-around is a race, can you get results faster than the nay-bobs can mount an effective counter offensive. In this race the stakes can’t be any higher: you win = kids wins; nay-bobs win = kids lose. Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…

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