Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Best Practice or Creative Excellence

If you have ever flown on an airplane, you have no doubt heard a flight attendant reciting the pre-flight announcement telling passengers to place their seat backs in the upright position, to fasten their safety belts, turn off all personal electronic devices, stow all luggage properly in the overhead bins, etc. In my experience, just about everyone on the plane pays little attention.

I recently had an opportunity to watch a flight attendant on Southwest Airlines take a rather creative approach to the mandatory pre-flight announcement - to view the video click here

Whether or not this announcement was real or staged, it did cause me to reflect upon how we do business in education. When we identify someone who gets better results than anyone else, (whether a district, school or an individual teacher) we refer to their method as a "best practice" and then rush to find ways to duplicate their efforts. The problem is, not everyone has the same strengths and talents. As a result, mandating that others duplicate something as creative and unique as the flight attendant's rap announcement would be a recipe for failure for most. So too is it in the classroom - asking others to duplicate the unique strengths and talents is also often a recipe for failure.

Instead we need to outline the expectations and material to be covered, (just as the highly regulated Federal Aviation Administration does for the pre-flight announcement) and then create an atmosphere where the use of every individuals strengths and talents can result in unique and powerful results. Assuming a fundamental level of competency, it is not what we do but rather HOW we do it that often makes the difference!

Monday, January 6, 2014

It's Not Too Late To Answer The Saline Area Schools Holiday Challenge!

Back on December 18th I asked people to spend just 5 minutes of time to share with me one positive story of a Saline Area Schools employee demonstrating their care, compassion, commitment, competence, communication and dedication toward the children we serve. The story can be about a teacher, a bus driver, a food service employee, a coach, a custodian, an administrator, etc. - any employee of Saline Area Schools. Please include the name of the employee you are describing, a brief description of the positive contribution they made, (or what makes them special), when it happened and your name, (optional). Send your positive stories to me via e-mail at ellisc@salineschools.org

While I have received some wonderful stories, the response thus far has been much smaller than I had anticipated. As a result, I am extending the deadline to Friday, January 10th. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts!