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Believe. Collaborate. Thrive: A Framework for Transformative Schools

The impact of leadership on the culture of a school is immeasurable. Scott Gordon, a lifelong advocate for student success, emphasizes the pivotal role of cultivating a culture that believes in every child. This belief, he asserts, is not only the driving force behind student achievements but also the cornerstone of creating thriving communities. During a Circle Labs forum with Scott, we dived into the essentials of building transformative schools.


Scott Gordon is the founder, and former CEO of Mastery Charter network - a system of over 24 schools innovating what public schools can be. Mastery Schools are steeped in pursuing equity and strive to disrupt systemic racism and the inequities that limit their students’ choices.


The Power of Belief in Student Success


Culture is a powerful driver of behaviour, especially when turning a school around. According to Scott, establishing a culture that believes in the potential of every student is paramount. How do you turn a school around if its leaders and teachers don’t believe in their students’ potential? Leaders play a crucial role in fostering a culture of success and having a leader at the helm who not only believes in their students, but pushes them to achieve success, is critical to building a successful school. This unwavering belief must trickle down to everyone in the school system and can be built through rituals, community meetings, and a culture of support.


The Right School Leader


The right school leader, as per Gordon, is one who possesses a ferocious belief in kids. This belief is transformative and sets the stage for student success. Effective leaders are not only steadfast in their belief but also humble and open to feedback. Adaptability and quick learning are qualities that set successful leaders apart. Emotional intelligence along with their ability to effectively work with adults are other characteristics that you should ideally look out for.


For more insights on what makes a great school leader, and the framework that Scott followed to successfully turn around 24 schools, watch the full discussion here:




Building Strong Management Systems


Common assessments are crucial in defining great instruction. Leaders or peers should observe and provide constructive feedback to enhance teaching practices. The school team must operate from the same page with a common curriculum and utilise actionable data for informed decision-making. This will ensure that the entire educational community is aligned and focused on student success. Don’t get caught up in new curriculum approaches, instead stick to one and focus on that, Scott adds.


The Importance of Community


Having a community of people that believe what you believe and are working in the direction that you’re working in is absolutely essential. It can be a very lonely journey otherwise. Student achievement is the civil rights issue of our time and the reason we exist, Scott says. For many of you reading this, that's a belief that fuels your daily work.


There aren’t too many people that work in our realm, and it’s imperative to form relationships with those that are on the same journey. Their varied approaches and experiences can prove invaluable in shaping your own path. This collaborative effort will propel us all towards our common north star, expediting our journeys, regardless of how long and winding the road may be.


Conclusion


As we navigate the complexities of leadership, building strong management systems, and fostering a supportive community, we come to realise that success is not just an outcome but a journey rooted in the collective belief that every child can thrive. Through these principles, we can transform our schools into nurturing environments where students flourish, teachers excel, and communities thrive.


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