Thursday, May 21, 2009

School "Improvement"

Was just rereading a section of Multiple Intelligences: Best Ideas from Research and Practice, and noticed I had this part highlighted:

Our interviews reveal a common pattern in the implementation of MI. When educators begin using MI, they often try to adapt their work to the theory. For example, curriculum, school periods, classroom learning centers, and even students might be labeled with the different intelligences. Within a couple years of applying the theory, most educators rethink this approach.

...'We use MI to support what we need to do for kids; rather than manipulating what we do with kids to support MI'

In my notes in the margin I've written YES! "We're already doing it." NO YOU'RE NOT! I see this happening in all kinds of situations and in lots of schools I've been in. So often the school improvement process seems to consist of "Let's write down all of the things we're already doing so it's easier to check it off later". This makes so little sense to me. I just don't get it. Thinking like this transforms a school improvement plan into a school maintenance plan. Instead of bringing in new ideas and perspectives, what happens? Last year's school improvement plan is brought in so that the new one can paraphrase (or directly use) language from the previous year.

School improvement needs to be about new ideas and perspectives. Every school can get better and it does no good to rehash the same things (or worse, throw down things that are already happening....and causing failure....but are easier to check off as completed at the end of the year).


Neckwrench said...

I would agree with this statement. Often the latest and greatest school improvement plans start out great with everybody on board, but fizzles out after one or two months! Like you said Steve it becomes a matter of a checklist rather than a concerted effort to strive for true school improvement plan. With school districts financial resources in short supply, it is important to have all staff committed to real improvement. Here in Michigan where we are talking 300-400 dollar decrease per-student next year, it is important that our districts follow through rather than just paying lip-service to in-service school improvement plans.

Neckwrench said...