By Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D. Candidate
Successful sports teams have an identity, a vision, and a culture of learning and being that permeates throughout the entire organization. The Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, is the most success team in NFL history. They are a common man’s team without flash or "Hollywood" status. The ownership believes in loyalty (up to a financial point), “blue collar” hard work, good people, and it shows in the way the team plays, the players they choose and the personnel they hire. The Steelers aren’t a glamorous ”new media team.” They are old school like the rotary phone. And, unlike most of the professional sporting world, the Steelers have only had 3 head coaches in the last 40 something years. Which has resulted in every one of the 3 coaches playing in the Super bowl more than once and winning at least 1 championship.
How does that relate to school success?
Often public schools have no direction, no meaningful mission, and very high turnover rates – especially at the leadership positions. This results in learning programs constantly changing, new philosophies being handed down, and a teaching corps who doesn’t know what will happen next. As such, the school just hovers. It can’t move forward because it’s in perpetual flux.
No organization can be successful without an identifiable, mission, vision, and culture of learning. Everyone from the superintendent to the TA to students should be able to clearly and succinctly communicate what the school stands for, believes in, and is doing to achieve its stated goals. No organization can be successful when high turnover is as certain as death and taxes. And no organization can be successful when its members are not hired and developed according to the organization’s needs.
If public schools continue to throw stuff at the walls to see what sticks instead of developing a sustainable learning organization, they will reach the point of no return. They will become the LA Clippers or the Cleveland Browns of education.