How “ordinary” educators can achieve extraordinary results


“[G]iven the right organizational conditions, a majority of workers (including educators) can and will rise to the occasion.” —Esther Quintero

Esther Quintero reminds us in her essay that given the right conditions, “ordinary people” can do extraordinary things, including “average” educators turning around deeply-challenged public schools. (That assertion also applies to students’ abilities to learn in extraordinary ways.)

Those “right conditions,” in my experience, include:

• skillful leadership provided by both teacher leaders and administrators,

•  the nurturing of a school culture that promotes the continuous improvement of teaching and learning,

• professional collaboration focused on the achievement of a small number of very important student learning goals, and

• the careful cultivation of educators’ talents and commitments to high levels of learning for all students.

These conditions are challenging to create and impossible to “scale up” using the methods that reformers typical use (that is, schools replicating the best practices of more successful schools “motivated” by sanctions and incentives linked to high-stakes testing).

What do you think? Can “ordinary” educators, given the right conditions, achieve extraordinary results? And, if so, what conditions would you add to my list? 


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