I just read this article by David Guerin where he describes how they asked the teacher to reflect on a restaurant experience and compare this to their own school. The questions they asked were:
Think about the best dining experience you ever had. What made it exceptional? Was it the service, the atmosphere, or the cuisine? How was the experience more than just a good meal? Why was it truly memorable?
It is an interesting approach and certainly something that made me think. What are you looking for when you are eating out and how can your expectations compare to those of your students and their parents when they meet your school for the first time? This exercise, I think, can be compared to preparing an elevator pitch. If someone asked you why they should send their kids to your school, what would you say?
This year our school will be going through the exciting process of hiring a new principal. Seems to me this could be the perfect time to reassess and to perfect what we do well. Just like why a certain restaurant has you coming back for more our students’ siblings seem to want to come to us too. This time of the year many 10th graders decide on their high school choice. The question to ask is; what makes our school extraordinary?
David Guerin describes a staff meeting where they reflected on what they hoped for when they visit a restaurant, and then how that can compare to school. They asked questions like:
- Should every school love students?
- Should every school be a safe place?
- Should every school implement engaging, relevant curriculum and instruction?
- Should every school work together with families and the community?
- Should every school promote life-long learning?
I am sure you can add questions to the discussion. I would like to add this question; if your students don’t master the content, they just don’t get it, what do you do to help them? One way today is to use the principle behind the flipped classroom. Provide material and videos they can revisit when they need extra time to learn. Anyway you do this, and whatever conclusion you end up with, it is an interesting approach and it provides the opportunity to reflect on what we do every day. How do we treat our students and what are their expectations, apart from getting good grades of course! Any new principal should take time to have this conversation with his/her new staff. It will give you a feeling of the school and the culture and a great starting point for the new adventure you have started.