Every year our organization is confronted with the need to examine our practice and organizational focus. We are required to do an analysis of our activity and to what extent a qualitative shift in schools and educators occurred.
The reality is we often don't know what we are measuring since our plans are ours and not owned by the collective. Schools do not have a complete understanding of our annual journey or its intended outcomes. We make very little effort to fully explain it to SMTs and educators. The stance is often that they know we are trying to help them, whether unconsciously or consciously so. Because that's what district support services to schools do. We support! And we plan it for schools!
The current reality? Ask different people in support structures what "support-to-schools" mean and you're bound to get a diverse set of responses. You may even get a few irritated glances and morbid looks for daring to ask the question! Yet it needs to be answered.
Why is this important? It is important because the underlying philosophy of support to schools must surely be underpinned by the need to emancipate schools; to empower the environment so that the management and educators as well as the parent community can effectively manage and govern the teaching and learning environment. And if we agree on this, then we must also agree that we have a responsibility as district support services to schools to involve schools in our planning and share our intentions and embrace their views too.
If we fail to do this or deem it an unnecessary requirement, we must expect the malaise that is so pervasive in many of our schools to continue; we must accept that they will blame the system and hide behind the socio-psycho pathologies that remain a challenge in our communities. These schools will continue to accept zero responsibility for their own destiny or current practices that fail thousands of learners each year. Of course, it's also entirely possible that the schools in question don't know how to manage the challenges they face daily. They need help to plan, implement actions and review them, refine them and measure them. They need assistance and understanding that goal setting also involves goal getting! And this is why it is so important that we involve them in our thinking, our planning, our drafted plans! They must understand how to measure impact! They must get a grip on managing schooling in the 21st century!
The other wake up call is that they may know more than we do about the issues! And that's why we must collaborate and engage schools. We must listen to business, to parents and community structures. We must harness their intelligence and frame broad and multilayered support to schools...support that have their buy-in. And we must realize that all this coordination requires time for a successful role-out.
If you disagree, I listen attentively to a different view that will help lift our schools because the current programmes are just not getting us there!