Monday, July 15, 2013

9 Best Practices and/or the One must

"What are the best practices in supplementary schools?" was the an email I got this morning from an organization about to do a project with congregations.

Should I list out the top 9 things that make what I'd call best practices?
Best practices for Supplementary Educations are:

1.  Mission drive: mission is about impacting people's lives-not covering certain subjects or preparing for events

2. Vision clarity and robustness: so vision constantly guides decisions-not sits on a wall

3. A structure that enables achievement of goals of mission and vision
You can't drop kids off two hours a week and say we are going to enable you to live better daily lives guided by Torah

Have a structure that enables you to meet goals:
mostly that means including families; building real community; regularly and anchoring learning in real life contexts; and offering choices that speak to folks unique journeys

4. Integration to the larger congregation-recurring systems that reinforce one another-the new trend-is connection to the larger resources of the community

5. A recognizable and worthy "theology" that informs how we see, know, care,   how we see God, and Torah and this is how we act in the small and the big,

6. Ongoing professional learning that is embedded and aligned to learner outcomes

7. A practice of using 21st century design principles so that learning
a. speaks to the questions of participants and their daily life
b. enables reflection, inquiry and meaning making
c. prioritizes relationships among peers, across generations
d. is content rich and accessible

8. A practice of assessment that attends to:
a. the whole of a person (not just their "Jewish selves')
b. enabling a learner set goals and see growth
c. enabling educators to focus, assess learner growth and their own practice and adjust

9. A culture of making it better
where change happens top down, bottom up and from the middle
where folks are always trying, testing out something and adjusting to meet mission

So lists usually come in 5's, 7's or 10's.

I've offered 9 best practices

You tell me is this one the tenth, the first or the only one?

Best Practice ..the One must:
the people.

I can't get away from it.

I'm yet to see the "people proof" model of great education.
So the One must, the one best practice, is having great people in place. Don't confuse that with charismatic. That term gets in the way of being very clear that stuff doesn't happen without leaders who have:

1. Have clarity of thought and word to direct action
 They have Can do attitudes. This compares to the leaders who are negaholics and there are never enough resources, time etc to get anything done. Someone who sees the big picture and have the skills to turn them into to do lists

2. Someone who leads and invites the gifts of inspired others "can do"

3. Someone who strives to live the mission of the organization

I'm thinking none of the 9 best practices can exist without the One must, the right people.

Mostly in our field, are people afraid to say that?

I do believe in the line Stephanie Hirsch taught me years ago:
"Put a good person in a bad system and the system wins every time."

True and  "A system without a good person fails or mediocres-out every time."
What do you think?