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Vacation Reflections About Top-Notch School Performance

I recently took three weeks, entirely away from my work routines, to relax, engage with friends and family, and reflect.

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This afforded me opportunity to reflect upon numerous school settings to which I have been exposed and upon the work accomplished by the many dedicated professionals I’ve met in these schools.

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I am so positively impressed by the dedication, teamwork, and efforts of school personnel I’ve met and worked with!

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Even so, I see a common problem across many of the schools within which I visit and work.

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The very strengths I see in schools (for example, professionalism, diversity of backgrounds, multiple foci, continuously improving tools, rising expectations) contribute to their challenges, as well as their strengths.

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Might you be able to relate to this, my following description?

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(I also provide a unique solution.)

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1) Each school has a mission and ideals that drive its very reason for existence.  This is fantastic.

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2) Then, every school translates its philosophy, mission, goals, and strategies into performance structures, systems, technologies, and people’s actions — each designed to, in combination, meet or exceed school goals.

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Unfortunately, life, including organizational life, is not perfect.

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3) As the many well-meaning people attempt to complete their work, inevitable misalignments among school structures, systems, technologies, and the skills/qualities of personnel will at times spawn unfortunate defensive adult reactions, rather than more constructive responses.

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This is a part of human nature and the human process.

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HSI DisclosureA

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4) School personnel’s defensive reactions might be passive-defensive or aggressive-defensive.

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When reacting defensively, people are responding to their own safety or status security needs, rather than addressing the higher-order satisfaction needs of themselves and others.

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This defensiveness will occur staff to staff, and staff with students.

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Unfortunately, the greater the number of defensive reactions, rather than more constructive responses, the greater the number of problems and continuing frustrations that can ensue, resulting in diminished individual, team, and school performance.

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☞  While defensive, rather than more constructive, reactions can be problematic enough in their own right, the greatest loss, in a K-12 school context, is a detraction from more reliable constructive adult social-and-emotional modeling by school adults with our students.

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☛  Reliably constructive social and emotional modeling provide the very foundation for development of top-notch academic and civic skills and accomplishments by our students.

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The more often that defensive reactions and resulting attempts at problem solving are employed by adults, we are teaching our children that when our own stress is high, bets are off for constructive responses with each other — including with our students.

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What does this teach our children?

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I think it is time to move beyond simply adding new programs, as valuable as these programs might be.

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I think it’s time to work more effectively with what and with whom we’ve got — starting with our valuable and presently engaged staff!

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Using evidence-based models with clear road-maps for success while providing clear behavioral support, experienced guides can empower your school staff to safely identify and mend mis-matches between their own actual and their own desired behavioral responses on the job, especially when under stress.

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Guided by these fine-tuned behavioral goals among staff, identification of organizational mis-alignments among school structures, systems, technologies, and skills can be brought into constructive focus for mending — specifically to support enhanced constructive and less defensive adult personnel performance.

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This process will naturally include specific adult training for those natural circumstances identified by school personnel as most problematic.

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The result is more consistently constructive adult responses to both challenges and opportunities for student learning on the job, with a school system more effectively aligned to support adults’ constructive actions, including in difficult circumstances.

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This particular approach can be especially valuable if your school is facing recalcitrant performance challenges.

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> >  Sign up for our monthly Principals and their Supporters eLetter.

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We’ll keep you apprised as to how a variety of other schools are addressing this challenge.

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>> Or contact us!

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We provide confidential “micro-consults” at no charge to you.

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When you are ready, we’d like to describe this approach to you in person.

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~Norman Jentner

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Norman Jentner, Ph.D.
Peak Performance and Mindfulness
Bridges to School Culture Advantages
Conflict as Opportunity for Growth

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