MISSION: School Transformation is inspired and guided by the visioning document Creating a New Vision for Texas Public Education, produced by the Public Education Visioning Institute.
Article V: Organizational Transformation
The digital revolution and its accompanying social transformations and expectations dictate a transformation of schools from their current bureaucratic form and structure that reflects the 19th and early 20th century factory after which they were modeled, to schools that function as learning organizations. We believe that a learning organization can create the conditions and capacities most conducive for leaders, teachers, and students to perform at high levels and meet the expectations of new learning standards.
- Excellence emanates from a shared commitment to values and standards, high levels of engagement, and strong leadership at levels functioning within an accountability system that inspires.
- The teacher’s most important role is to be a designer of engaging experiences for students, supporting students in their work by incorporating more traditional roles as planner, presenter, instructor, and performer.
- The overall quality of the present teaching force is excellent, and most teachers are capable and willing to take on their new designer role if their sense of moral purpose for entering teaching is honored, and if they are provided relevant developmental opportunities and a climate and conditions that support them.
- To attempt to incentivize teachers with material rewards for improving test scores is an insult to teachers and infers that improvements in learning can be measured with precision. Such pay schemes should not be mandated by the state but left to the discretion of local districts.
- The costly loss of so many teachers from the profession in the first three to five years of employment is likely more a function of the social systems and conditions that dominate most schools than a lack of material rewards.
- Districts will have increasing difficulty in attracting experienced teachers to teach in poverty-stricken schools, and the overall teacher retention rate will decline even further if federal and state bureaucratic controls continue excessive focus on high-stakes standardized tests.
- Leadership development at all levels (teachers, included) must become a primary means of building needed capacities to function in required new roles.
- Students are in charge of determining where their attention, effort, and commitment go, and their access to information gives them even more power; hence, they must be treated accordingly.
- The variation in student learning is as much a function of student effort as it is of ability, meaning that we must incorporate into the tasks we design and assign to students those qualities that will increase engagement.
- Profound learning (owning the knowledge) as opposed to superficial learning (short-term memory) comes more from engagement and commitment than from various forms of compliance, coercion, sanctions, or rewards.
- The use of too tightly monitored curriculum and a scripted approach to teaching to ensure coverage of the material for the test instead of broad understandings of connected content is a detriment to profound learning.
- The district is responsible for creating the conditions in which student commitment and engagement become central and for attracting principals and teachers who can learn to use appropriate frameworks, protocols, processes, assessments, and resources in different ways in a collaborative setting.
- Operating and social systems exist in all organizations including schools. Transforming these systems is the only way to transform schools into the type of organization needed.