No matter your profession, job title, or numbers on your W-2 form, most of us have careers that determine success by quantifiable measures. In education, our schools are sadly judged on test scores among other things like graduation rates, attendance percentages, and students receiving scholarship money. Right or wrong, these measures only tell part of success' trajectory. Like a quarterly earnings statement or a budget report at year's end, people fall in love with "objectifiable" statistics that give us some sense of direction.
But the "how" in those conclusions is important.
It's not about how the school calculates it's attendance or how the students were prepared for the test. The "how" is about our daily work. Confidence in how we educate and lead can only come from how we work. I've been thinking about the value of the process and how "the how" is often the best indicator of great results for our students and for us as professionals. Here are 3 "hows" that I think matter.
1. How we prepare matters.
It's hard to "wing it" in any job. The most successful lessons start with great preparation. School leaders who do their homework earn more respect. How we prepare for change in our profession keeps our organization ahead of the curve. Preparation is another way of saying, "I tried my best and my best IS good enough." If a team practices hard and prepares but still comes up short- the result matters way less than giving your team the best chance to win. My worst lessons as a classroom teacher always stemmed from a lack of preparation and thoughtfulness. It was a clear indicator of the phrase, "fail to plan is just planning to fail."
2. How we work with others matters.
It's amazing how results, work ethic, and resiliency can be overlooked by how well we work with those around us. How can we contribute positively to a team? Can we put the needs of the organization and our team before our own? Will we seek collaborative relationships with our colleagues instead of creating confrontational ones?
We hear a lot about soft skills that we want kids to learn as they navigate through our school. How we work with each other professionally might be the greatest subjective but overlooked factor in determining success or failure.
What rating would you give yourself on the "plays-well-in-the-sandbox-o-meter?"
3. How we model for others matters.
People I've looked up to have showed me, not told me. I watched the way they talked to kids, what they wore, when they showed up and left, and most important, how they managed their own success and failure. Modeling is a powerful way expose a consistent core and center of who we are professionally. Being who you are everyday is actually harder than it looks. Do you set an example that others should follow? We can only expect of others what we first expect of ourselves. How we model those expectations and behaviors becomes paramount in achieving great things in our schools.