Guest post in our Summer Leadership Series by Dr. Steven Weber. Steven is the Associate Superintendent with Fayetteville Public Schools (Arkansas)
“And to my hero. That’s who I chase…..Because my hero’s me at 35.
So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”
In 2014, Matthew McConaughey spoke these words during his acceptance speech at the Oscars Awards Show. Educators should strive to improve and to chase their own best instructional strategies, innovative lesson design, formative assessments, and work with colleagues. Educators should also chase questions that drive continuous improvement. “If you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions” (Maxwell, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, 2014). Continuous improvement should be about answering questions, rather than checking off goals. The questions we ask are often more important than completing the school improvement plan.
Seven Questions That Drive Continuous Improvement
- What does student understanding look like?
- How will we implement the 4 Cs (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity) in curriculum, instruction, and assessments?
- Does our learning space support student understanding of the key skills, concepts, and soft skills that our staff has identified as important?
- What is the ratio of compliance vs. contribution in my classroom/school?
- Are we designing authentic tasks for students or asking each student to complete the same assignment?
- Do the lessons/units incorporate Accountable Talk or student-led questions which deepen student understanding?
- What is one thing that our school could transform to improve student understanding?
What are you chasing? Mark Sanborn (2015) wrote, “In the past, leaders were those who knew the right answers. Today, leaders are those who know the right questions.” What questions are guiding the work of your grade level or school team? Some educators hope to have a better school year than in the past, while others are constantly chasing their best year.
Think of it like a score of 130 in bowling. The next time you bowl, you should try to get a 140 or higher. It is the tension between what is and what could be that motivates successful educators. These individuals realize they have the power to influence and inspire students to become great, by constantly chasing their best teaching moments.