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Defining Greatness. 25 Factors Great Schools Have in Common Patrick F. Bassett Bassett@HeadsUpEd.com. Bassett’s 25 Indicators of Great Schools. Great schools…

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bassett s 25 indicators of great schools
Bassett’s 25 Indicators of Great Schools
  • Great schools…
  • Create and perpetuate an intentional culture shaped by the adults, rooted in universal values of honesty and caring, and relentlessly oriented toward achievement.
  • “To inspire each girl to fulfill her promise and to better the world.” (“Purpose helps a girl to understand she is not the only star in the firmament, nor is she a tumbleweed being blown through life.”)
  • Culture provides motivation, structure, and guidance. Motivators for adults vs. kids: Dan Pink’s “Drive” three motivators vs. Christensen & Horn’s research on drivers for adolescents
  • Strategic & programmatic focus on character, “the hidden curriculum” revealed.
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Great schools…

2. Eclectically capitalize on the best ideas about what works in schools, those gleaned from the past as well as those deemed best for the future.

Are you a 21st C. school “in the news” for innovation? Are you attuned to “disruptive innovations” – those that by definition increase access and decrease cost?

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3. Manifest a coherent philosophy of learning for students, be it constructivist, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Montessori, strengths-based, progressive, traditional, 1:1, IB, or whatever — so long as it remains open to ongoing discussion, assumption testing, and constant refinement.

What’s your “differentiator”? Do faculty talk pedagogy?

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4. Make a substantial commitment to professional development for faculty, expecting teachers to grow as learners themselves and to develop mastery in the art and science of teaching.

Seriously invested in professional development? Need not be expensive: could be time. Too much freedom to choose?

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5. Develop collegial means to professionalize the profession, such as rounds, lesson study, digital faculty portfolios, and the like, adopting professional development strategies that are prevalent in high-performing schools and countries around the world.

Faculty portfolios of their flipped class videos & their students’ exhibitions

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6. Adopt a big vision, one that continually refreshes itself in order to sustain the enterprise along the five most strategic continua: demographic, environmental, global, financial, and programmatic.

What’s your vision statement? The “postcard of your destination?”

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7. Define the school’s “playground” in expansive ways, beyond the school’s borders into the local community, the region, and the world.

Your experiential-edtrack?

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8. Demonstrate the public purpose of private education locally, nationally, and globally through a variety of means, including modeling experimentation to improve schooling and partnering with the public sector at the school and university levels.

Do you participate in Horizons/Prep for Prep programming? Joining the NNSP?

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9. Embrace stewardship of the school and its resources, renewing and growing the school’s physical, financial, and human resources to achieve financial equilibrium.

Does your physical, intellectual, social, & financial capital all grow every year?

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10. Enable constituents to donate their time and treasure consistently by providing the metrics on school volunteerism, financing, and eleemosynary benchmarks, and by telling the school’s story in powerfully moving ways.

Do you benchmark using NAIS StatsOnline “Markers of Success data?

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11. Pay it forward by building endowment and thereby sustaining intergenerational equity so that the next generation of families will be at least as well served by this generation as the current generation of families has been by its predecessors.

Adopt a “giving” financial discipline and culture? Allocate portion of all giving to endowment?)

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12. Commit to diversity of all kinds and at all levels to create the conditions and school culture so that students learn how to appreciate & map differences, then navigate & ride the waves of change.

  • Diverse teams at the faculty, management, and board levels: Scott Page’s Diversity & Complexity; Cosmopolitanism & Culture GPS; Research on value of introverts & neurotics on one’s team
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13. Redefine the ideal classroom setting as one of intimate environment, not small classes, since the former can occur in schools or classes of any size and even online, and the latter can miss the point of intimacy.

Does the students:staff ratio have room to grow?)

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14. Create a financially sustainable future by means other than persistently large annual tuition increases, recognizing that being the best value, rather than the highest price in town, offers the strongest value proposition.

Learn from the for-profits? Refine the value proposition of your school?)

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15. Achieve extraordinary parent and alumni participation in annual giving, reflecting superb volunteer organization and execution and a grateful constituent base.

Organize to seek 100% trustee & parent participation

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16. Adopt and fund “3 Rs” talent strategies that position the school to recruit, retain, and reward the best and brightest teachers, school leaders, and board members.

Seek Teach for America candidates?

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17. Compensate staff members fairly and competitively related to performance and contributions to the well-being of the school and in acknowledgment of the staff’s tremendous responsibility for and impact on students.

Reward attitude and performance?

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18. Provide leadership paths for teachers wishing to stay in teaching, rather than jump to administration, by creating a host of academic and task- force leadership roles.

Offer career & leadership track for teachers?

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19. Track student outcomes over time, beyond the years in one’s own school, seeking data on how well the school prepared its students for the next legs of their life journeys — be it the next levels of education or life beyond.

Employ the NAIS Young Alumni Survey?

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20. Seek data to make data-rich (not opinion-rich) decisions, embracing former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings’s observation, “In God we trust; all others, bring data.”

Employ the NAIS Trustee Dashboards? Survey constituents?

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21. To avoid unnecessary distractions, educate the board and parents thoroughly about “how schools work,” and about what student and parent needs a school can and cannot meet.

  • Parent and board education? Role Play Difficult conversations)
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22. Market their schools with “sticky messages” that tell a compelling story.

Know your market segmentation? Your school’s best stories? “Sticky messages+ that tell a story with data that backs it? Marketing features or outcomes? Reinforcing the value proposition with stories + data)

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23. Know their priorities when making difficult decisions, ranking first “what’s best for the school,” then “what’s best for the student,” then “what’s best for all other interests.”

Use the Institute for Global Ethics 4-way test: gut, legal, front page, role-model?

great schools

24. Know that mission-match with a prospective student (on the intake) and matriculating students (on the outtake) is the controlling factor in admissions and secondary school or college placement.

Great Schools…

Define the sweet spot of the ability range you serve? Create “schools with in a school” and “centers of excellence” to expand reach?

great schools1
Great Schools…

25. Find the right balance for the drivers of financial aid to achieve school goals of diversifying the school, managing enrollment, and attracting a talented class of students.

Know your financial aid “Sophie’s Choice” profile?

great schools2
Great Schools…

All schools have the capacity to become great schools. All they need is the focus and leadership to create the proper conditions for the board, school leadership team, staff, and constituents to do so.

All they need is the focus and leadership to create the proper conditions for the board, school leadership team, staff, and constituents to do so.

The End!

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Choose to be Great by Choice

  • Roald Amundsen vs. Robert Falcon Scott, in their efforts to lead their teams to be the first to the South Pole in October 1911
  • Adopt the discipline of “the 20 – mile march”
  • Empirical creativity vs. intuition
  • First “shoot bullets, not missiles”

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25 factors survey

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Factors Exercise – Great Schools

Instructions:  Pat Bassett's Independent School magazine column (Spring 2013) "25 Factors Great Schools Have in Common" identifies many attributes of exceptional schools.  For the workshop breakout sessions he will conduct with our community, he has asked that participants read this article and then submit their top five to eight factors in each column:

Top Factors that are Important and Top Factors that are Important and

that our School Does Wellthat our School Does Less Well

1.  1.

2.  2.

3.  3.

4.  4.

5.  5.

6.  6.

25 Factors Survey
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Creativity, Robotics, Teaming and STEM

…and wearable, functional art

grant wood s victorian survival
Grant Wood’s Victorian Survival

Smithsonian Podcast interpretation by Katy Waldman, Holton Arms School

Demonstration of Learning

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Cf. Audubon Society; National Geographic; Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Foundation; New Knowledge Organization , etc.

the value proposition equation
The Value Proposition Equation

Perceived Outcomes

Perceived Price

= Value

A six year old’s perspective?

Compete on brand, price, or uniqueness

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1. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Mostby Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

You’re a jerk.

I hate you.

You’re

holding

me up.

How’s the

project

coming?

Fine,

thanks.

Levels: Stated vs. Implied. Business at hand vs. Threats to my image.

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Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Mostby Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

The Spouse/Partner Version

She doesn’t get what my work demands..

You think you’re only busy one?

You don’t love me.

.

Can it wait?

I’m busy

Fine.

Irate Parent Version: Mishandled conversations create the very outcomes we dread.

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Expeditionary Learning

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  • NOLS-based Leadership Basics:
  • Taking Care of…
  • Yourself…
  • Your Stuff…
  • Your Responsibilities to the Team
  • In the context of real-world project-based learning and problem-solving
  • Measured by CWRA critical-thinking assessment.

The Future of Teaching: Hybrid Learning, High Tech + High Touch

See Christensen & Horn article on “hybrid disruptive innovation”

the honor code
The HONOR CODE
    • Woodberry Forest School alums have highest alumni participation in the country - 64%. Higher than highest colleges.
  • Charlotte Latin Honor Code testimonials from graduates:
    • “I see cheating at every turn in college – in the weight room, on the volleyball court, and in the classroom…. I want to thank you and the school for making being honest a habit for me.” -Aristotelian insight.
    • “Mr. Wall: I wrote my first English paper in college on my experience when I was caught cheating in 9th grade on a physics quiz and how helpful you were to me as a mentor from that point forward – and how that turned me into the young man I now am.” - Mark Twain on good judgment.
    • “Honor above All.”

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3rdMarker of Success: Giving (Day) (1)

Generous giving measures constituent loyalty (generosity as a proxy for high support and attributed effectiveness)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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3rdMarker of Success: Giving (Day) (2)

Generous giving measures constituent loyalty (generosity as a proxy for high support and attributed effectiveness)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Growing endowment: measures commitment to financial security (a proxy for inter-generational equity and long-term stability).

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Growing endowment: measures commitment to financial security (a proxy for inter- generational equity and long-term stability).

9th Marker of Success: Endowment- (Day) (2)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Comparatively high student:faculty and student:total staff ratios (percentiles): measure high workload productivity (a proxy for institutional efficiency); low productivity/ratios (a proxy for competing on brand or program not price)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Comparatively high student:faculty and student:total staff ratios (percentiles): measure high workload productivity (a proxy for institutional efficiency); low productivity/ratios (a proxy for competing on brand or program not price)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Comparatively high student:faculty and student:total staff ratios (percentiles): measure high workload productivity (a proxy for institutional efficiency); low productivity/ratios (a proxy for competing on brand or program not price)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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Comparatively high student:faculty and student:total staff ratios (percentiles): measure high workload productivity (a proxy for institutional efficiency); low productivity/ratios (a proxy for competing on brand or program not price)

(Years mentioned are data collection years)

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the good news data to use diversity complexity scott page
The Good News: Data To UseDiversity & Complexity - Scott Page
  • In any and all systems (nature, corporate, educational, disease), the more diverse the system, the stronger and more likely to persist and succeed.
  • Mathematically demonstrable: a formula to predict the higher likelihood of success of diverse systems
  • If you assemble the 100 “smartest” people you can find in one group and a random and diverse set of people in a second group, the second group outperforms in decision making every time.
culturally competent leaders
Culturally Competent Leaders
  • Accepting of a lack of full closure, of ambiguity and ambivalence
  • Recognizes there is much denial about diversity challenges
  • Articulates well why diversity is mission-critical:
    • classroom experience richer;
    • faculty problem-solving is more innovative;
    • demographic imperative is addressed
    • benefits all: in some ways benefits white students most (IHE) in terms of growth of critical thinking

Don’t Miss the Boat on the Benefits of Diversity!

problem solving via strategic governance cf dick chait s governance as leadership
Problem Solving via Strategic Governance (cf. Dick Chait’s Governance as Leadership)

Needed: Three Levels of Trusteeship

  • Level One: Fiduciary (oversight and assessment of mission & finance)
  • Level Two: Strategic (“less management/more governance” via scanning and planning)
  • Level Three: Generative (shared visioning, R&D orientation for imagining and experimenting).

PFB’s 3 lenses: oversight, foresight, and insight

Use the power of setting the agenda to build a strong process

developing the board admin team board member may 2004 chait et al
Developing the Board & Admin Team(Board Member, May 2004, Chait et al.)

The SAT Analogy:

Our board is to our organization

as is to .

three levels of board governance source bill ryan aisne governance workshop oct 23 2007
Three Levels of Board GovernanceSource: Bill Ryan, AISNE Governance Workshop, Oct 23. 2007

Analogies revealing some level of dysfunction:

“Our board is to our organization as…”

  • Loose steering wheel is to auto
  • Fingernail is to blackboard
  • Hamster is to wheel
three levels of board governance adapted from board member may 2004 chait et al
Three Levels of Board Governance(Adapted from Board Member, May 2004, Chait et al.)

Move from micromanagement to macroengagement. Employ the 3 lens rubric

to problem-solving: Rising benefit costs? Adding Chinese or Hindi? Immersion?

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“Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do thingsright.” ~Warren G. Bennis

Examples of a board doing “things right”?

what leaders really do john kotter
What Leaders Really Do ~ John Kotter
  • Management:
  • Manages Complexity by…
  • Planning & Budgeting
  • Organizing & Staffing
  • Controlling & Problem-solving
  • Producing predictability, order, and consistency
  • Leadership:
  • Leads Change by…
  • Setting a direction
  • Aligning people
  • Motivating and inspiring
  • Producing useful and
  • dramatic change

(i.e., “doing things right”)

(i.e., “doing the right things”)

Examples of a board doing “the right thing”?

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The Perfect Head of School(Walter Ebmyer, ISM, 1980)

  • The Perfect Head of School always has the right thing to say…wears good clothes…buys good books…is 29 years old with 40 years of experience…smiles all the time…visits 15 classes per day and is always in the office to be available for instant parent conferences…etc.
  • The Perfect Head of School is always in the next nearest school (not yours).
  • If your head does not measure up…
  • Send this notice to six other schools that are tired of their heads, too.
  • Bundle up your head and send him or her to the school on the top of the list.
  • In one week you will receive 1643 heads--and one will be perfect: Have faith in this letter.
  • One country day school broke the chain and got its old head back in less than four months.
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SAT InfoGraphic

Source: CAPE Outlook 10/13

PFB Note: 1550 of 2400 Benchmark Score for 3-part SAT (math, reading, writing) = floor where academic success in college is likely

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