We were working with a wonderful group of educators in Jonesboro last summer as a part of the “Diploma Planning Institute” with the National Dropout Prevention Center. There were several groups of educators in the room… principals, assistant principals, counselors, attendance officers, central office personnel, even teachers.
As we were kicking off our two-day event, we had an activity for a conversation starter. Everyone divided up into job-alike groups and worked together to answer this question:
What is your role in preventing student dropout?
All of the answers were great; this one by the assistant principals captured my imagination:
I loved the phrasing then and still do. “…knowing all students by name and by need…”
As a school leader, how effective are you in knowing your students by name? Have you gone to the next level and know them by need? We all know the power of relationships and personalizing the school experience. If we are merely processing the work of school and students without knowing them AND their needs, we most likely are missing out on a critical part of what schools can do.
In Standard Five of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (See Below), strand A is right on target with the APs from our day in Jonesboro. It says that “effective educational leaders build and maintain a safe, caring, and healthy school environment that meets the academic, social, emotional and physical needs of each student.”
Let’s focus on the last portion of the strand, “meets the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs of each student.” It seems that the APs verbiage,” know all of your students and their needs,” is a concise version of the same idea. We need not just “do school” to students, but we need to know what they need.
We have excellent data dashboards that help us know the needs of our students, but they are primarily designed to focus on just one of the four areas mentioned in the PSEL, that of academics. We also need to know and respond to the social, emotional, and physical needs of students.
In our desire to effectively meet our students’ academic needs, have we back-burnered their social needs? Do we consider their emotional needs? We all know that physical needs must be met before academic needs can be addressed completely. We know you have to Maslow before you can Bloom!
Students perform better when we know them and their needs. We should design our schools that way and lead them to support that goal.
_________________________________________________________________The focus of work in our Principal and Assistant Principal Academies during January 2017 has been on standard five of the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders, listed below. Today’s Leadership365 is dedicated to the topic to support that learning.
You can see the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders in entirety here: (http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2015/ProfessionalStandardsforEducationalLeaders2015forNPBEAFINAL.pdf)