THREE PRINCIPLES AND SEVEN BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS IN WHICH EVERYONE MATTERS
Everyone wants to feel and know that they matter.
PART 1. The Three Principles
PRINCIPLE ONE: RESPECT/RE-SPECT
A. Respect: showing admiration, deference, esteem, and recognition, as in “I respect your accomplishments and efforts.”
Honoring students, parents, teachers, administrators and all others stakeholders is an act of respect. Failing to honor all stakeholders is an act of disrespect. Bashing teachers, parents, students, administrators, and all other stakeholders is an act of disrespect.
B. Re-spect: (re=again + spect=see) taking a new look at something so as to more fully understand it, as in “Help me re-spect what it is you are doing and why your are doing it.”
Learning about a student’s culture and family is a way to gain re-spect for that student -- to see the student in a new way. The same holds for teachers, parents, administrators, and the larger society. We need to see all stakeholders in new ways (re-spect), especially from their perspective so that we can understand (respect) them more fully. It’s easier to respect someone whom we’ve re-spected.
Applied respect and re-spect in a school builds trust, and trust is the essential characteristic of an effective organizational culture.
PRINCIPLE TWO: RESPONSIBILITY/ RESPONSE-ABILITY
A. Responsibility: having an accountability of, being answerable for, being in charge of something, as in “Every stakeholder in our schools – parents, students, teachers, administrators, office and custodial staff, the community, State and Federal leaders, politicians, and many others – needs to face her/his responsibilities to our schools.”
B. Response-ablity: the ability to respond effectively to something that requires a response, as in “What’s your ablest response to the challenges of relevancy in our curriculum?” All stakeholders in our schools need to know how to respond effectively to school and education situations that they did not create but that are giving them challenges.
PRINCIPLE THREE: RELEVANCY
Relevancy: something that fits or is important to one’s needs, as in “It is relevant to my health to maintain a healthy diet and do regularly exercising.”
Very little meaningful learning can take place if a student feels that the curriculum, or a specific subject, or a required activity is not of importance to him or herself. A truly individualized program of relevancy offers the highest potential for meaningful and sustained learning.
The program also needs to be relevant to the needs of all stakeholders. When conflicts in relevancy arise between and amongst stakeholders, as they surely will in a diverse culture, they can best be resolved through respect/re-spect, and responsibility/response-ability.
THREE PRINCIPLES CONCLUSION:
When these three principles are in place and applied the school stands a very high chance of being a sustainably high effective learning environment. All mission statements, and all other principles will fit (complement) the three principles of respect/re-spect, responsibility/response-ability, and relevancy.
Part TWO: Seven Best Managing Practices for Getting to and Sustaining the Three Principles
1. Appreciative Inquiry
2. Servant Leadership
3. Open Book Collaborative Stewardship
4. Systems Thinking
5. Awareness and Review of its Organizational Metaphors
6. Circle and Consensus Dialoguing
7. Consistent Review, Revising, Revisioning.
1. APPRECIATIVE INQUIRY
Appreciative Inquiry, now a widely used organizational practice, has an interesting beginning story. In the early 1980s, David Cooperrider, an organization development doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management, was consulting to the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, OH. Working with a small group of employees addressing an organizational problem at the clinic, Cooperrider noticed that the group’s focus on the problem also exposed other problems. And the more the group focused on each additional problem, the more discouraged the members became. It was creating a negative atmosphere that was drawing the energy for problem solving out the group.
Discouraged by this focus on negativity, Cooperrider wondered what would happen if he reversed the focus. After reviewing this with his faculty advisor, Suresh Srivastva, the two decided that Cooperrider should try getting the group to focus on what was going well at the clinic and on what they appreciated about their life at the clinic.
Doing so, Cooperrider found that the group’s energy turned positive, sparking an increase in cooperation and in developing some measurable business performances. After hearing the outcomes of this positive inquiry approach, the Cleveland Clinic's Board asked Coopperrider and Srivastva to use the method with the entire organization of 8,000 employees.
Cooperrider and Srivastva referred to the approach as "Appreciative Inquiry," and in 1987, the two wrote what is now considered a classic article entitled "Appreciative Inquiry into Organizational Life.” (Research in Organizational Change and Development, 1987, Vol.1, Pages 129-169)
From that beginning, Appreciative Inquiry grew slowly but steadily until it became a well-developed practice used world wide for bringing positive changes to organizations, teams, and even to personal life issues.
AI began as a way to turn around the negativity that dominates traditional problem solving. Cooperrider came to realize that when a group, an organization, a relationship, or an individual attempts problem solving, the process will go in the direction of that which is being studied: negativity breeds negativity; positiveness breeds positiveness. He decided that rather than continuing the Cleveland Clinic on the path of problems and their subsequent negativity, he would move the organization toward its positive core and then build on that. That was the start of AI, which now has a significant body of literature, case studies and professional practitioners.