Pillars of Success

A recent EdWeek article caught my eye on five keys to urban school success.  Based upon 15 years of work in Chicago elementary schools, a new book identifies five "tried and true" ingredients that work, in combination with one another to lead success in urban schools.

Those pillars are:

• Strong leadership, in the sense that principals are “strategic, focused on instruction, and inclusive of others in their work”;


• A welcoming attitude toward parents, and formation of connections with the community;

• Development of professional capacity, which refers to the quality of the teaching staff, teachers’ belief that schools can change, and participation in good professional development and collaborative work;

• A learning climate that is safe, welcoming, stimulating, and nurturing to all students; and

• Strong instructional guidance and materials.

I am not sure I gained any huge "a-ha" in reading the article but it is causing me to think about the role that I play in helping schools to plant these pillars.  And it has me questioning about the role that I can play when politically, I am outside of a single district and instead operate among and with 27 of them.

And, as the article suggests, I am thinking about these findings in conjunction with the current Race to the Top initiatives and President Obama's State of the Union speech last night.

In short - I don't want to think alone.  What do you think of these 5 pillars? Are they new? Surprising? How do we go about supporting our educational systems to embrace them?

2 comments:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

I don't think that these pillars of success are new or surprising. However, just because these pillars of success are vital, doesn't mean that every school who builds on them will look the same. These are great foundations for any school, but schools must be distinct to their community. The way that they build and use the pillars may look different, I believe they should look different.

Theresa G said...

I agree that every district, indeed, every district that emnbodies the pillars would look different. Very different. Where I am struggling is what would it look like in any context?
Too many times - I see a tremendous focus on the outward aspects of the pillars (specifically, pillars 2 and 4) with some focus on pillar 5 but very little focus on pillars 1 and 3. It is those pillars which can make change sustainable.
After following along virtually at Educon - I am also thinking about who in school districts might become change agents in order to support these pillars.
As I said - still thinking!