Saturday, April 21, 2012

What Does That Even Mean?

We often think and talk in terms of outcomes.  For example, we make statements like, "You need to graduate" or "Our students need to attend school more often".  Jim and I have become very sensitive to all the education disscussions and town hall style meetings that seem to permeate the news programs, where they seem to only restate the problems. 

We continually train faculty/staff/administrators, parents and the students themselves to talk in terms of "Vital Behaviors"...actual steps it takes to get to the outcomes you want!  One school whose graduation rates were unacceptable, came up with a 5-prong plan developed by the students and adopted by the superintendent.   A parent group kept meeting with the goal of improving student attendance.  We worked with them through town hall style meetings, key informant interviews, community walkabouts and formal surveys.  Additionally, we worked extensively with the students themselves regarding positive deviance...the reasons why the students with perfect or near-perfect attendance came to school and we also asked for the steps they took to make sure they did attend.  Amazing results occurred.  Students, parents and teachers were armed and empowered with actual steps to take, all working together in a synchronized effort that the students themselves created and supported!

Let me continue to encourage us all that every time we hear a problem statement and a desired outcome, to automatically think of Vital Behaviors that could be implemented that would lead to improvement.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


COURSE OVERVIEW: Engaging students as Agents of Change, capable of influencing the climate of a school, may be the best kept secret in the world of school improvement.  Consider this:

·         Students make up roughly 90% of individuals on a typical high school campus, yet rarely speak in a collective voice regarding issues of school life

·         Students comprise one of three major stakeholder groups vested in the culture of a school (staff/faculty and parents making up the other two groups) but don’t have a seat at the table to  have input into critical decisions

·         Most adults work easily with the traditional leaders of a school but are looking for the skills to work with “difficult populations” who, in reality, may be the students whose gifts and talents are underutilized, resulting in feelings of disenfranchisement and disconnectedness.

Strengthening student engagement in school is a core area identified through research and by state and federal authorities that shows evidence of supporting school success.  Research into the field of influence and persuasion tells us of the power that exists within our social networks and that influencers among us are constantly observing our actions and persuading others to either join or resist these efforts-whether we like it or not.  They further go on to encourage us to embrace and enlist this influence rather than lament or deny it.  This may never be more accurate than in the halls of a school where highly networked and influential students have the power to support or doom an adult decision or practice with a subtle sigh, scoff, snicker, raised eyebrows, or, worse yet, a lightning quick expression with the click of a few keys. 

This one day staff development course will teach a model designed to:

1.       Help participants appreciate the realities of influence and technology

2.       Discuss and demonstrate the advantages of including 90% of the people on campus in planning and decision-making

3.       Discover the difference between a leader and an influencer and gain access into the power they hold

4.       Learn techniques to harness this influence and move forward for the good of all

Monday, April 9, 2012

Talk to the Machine???

We conduct trainings on site instead of selling videos and how-to manuals.  In a world where too many times machines replace workers and talents are outsourced to technology, there is a demand for human contact, personal touch and connections and collaborations among professionals.  In fact, economists and marketing specialists remind us that large corporations envy the fact that small businesses can provide "closeness to the customer" that large organizations cannot. 

Maintaining "closeness to the customer" translates into speed:  speed of trust, speed of decision-making, speed of problem solving and speed of course correction where needed.  We feel that we can truly listen and effectively and efficiently become partners who join you in your good work.  We strongly acknowledge and value the giftings and talents of the champions we have the awesome privilege of working with. 

As there are many choices for similar products and services, the difference maker and game changer still lies in connecting with people and in understanding their needs and providing excellent customer service.