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.

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