The 3 Keys To School Improvement

There are many questions completely unanswered in education right now.  The state of public education seems unstable at best. Dr. Geoffrey Canada, an advocate for doing education expertly in low-income neighborhoods while providing essential resources embodies the spirit that public education needs to not only survive, but thrive.  We have shared his video HERE and love what he has to say about moving the needle on “outdated” educational models.Once school leaders have pure intentions, passion and the right spirit of innovation that Canada speaks about…what’s next?  If you learn one thing from this article, it is this: radical school transformation can only happen when you have a laser-like focus on three components.

1. Culture

Simply put, culture is what you and all your stakeholders ultimately believe and exude about your school.  Your traditions and attitudes are the heartbeat of your school community.  Even deeper, what each stakeholder (students, teachers, leaders and parents) believe is the key factor that influences all others.

Culture is the foundation of your school.  Culture is complex and begins with leader and teacher reflection of who they are as educators.  If your school is looking to start the journey of cultural transformation, THIS is a great resource.

2. Climate

Culture dictates climate.  If culture are the greater beliefs and personality of your school community, climate is the attitudes.  Many believe that climate is easier to transform than culture.  This is a complex dispute among educational leaders.  Where do you stand?

In addition, many leaders spend vast amounts of time on professional development and coaching centered around engaging teachers and shifting mindset (characteristics of climate), while measuring their progress.

3. Instruction

Culture and climate are certainly reflected in day-to-day instruction.  However, other indicators characterizing instruction that is transformational would be the following:

  • Teacher coaching and feedback cycles
  • Guaranteed & viable curriculum
  • Professional development plans aligned to academic outcomes and teacher feedback
  • Strategic plan/budget alignment to academic outcomes
  • Effectiveness of teacher evaluation framework
  • High-leverage (non-negotiable) daily instructional strategies reflected in all teacher practice (i.e. small group, differentiated instruction)

We believe these are the three biggest keys to school improvement. We encourage you to share your strategies for each area; they are multi-tiered and complex “keys” – but we believe they produce transformational change in school communities.



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