When Michael Fullan was here two weeks ago, he spent his second day in discussion with our leadership team on how we can get greater precision in our work. He suggested three key areas as a next step: the coordination of the message across the system, the coordination of work across the networks and a strong instructional focus on literacy and maths.
According to Fullan, the last area is about getting specificity and depth and precision in the instruction. You see this when principals work inside and outside of their school, teachers work collaboratively and schools see themselves as something bigger. Building success across the system builds momentum.
Fullan also mentioned the importance of social capital in school improvement and whole system reform. He explained that social capital is essentially the quality of relationships in a group focussed on the work. The example Fullan uses is the sports team that is committed to each other and works cohesively actually beating the team with greater individual talent but which lacks cohesion and social capital.
The work of school principals is to help build the social capital in their own learning communities while systems support the creation of professional learning communities across networks. It is the development of a “peer culture”, linking into bigger networks where everyone is focused on improving student learning outcomes.
As Jim Collins says it’s not the destination but the journey that gets you from good to great. In many respects, Fullan has become our coach – helping to change our own instructional practice in order to become a high performing system.