The person with the most logistics responsibility is a school system is probably the director of transportation. Everybody recognizes that if the transportation system sends three half-full busses down the same route every day that there is probably something wrong. The pieces are not working together; every bus driver is doing his/her best is a system that needs logistics help. When the transportation director maximizes everyone’s efforts, we say transportation is optimized.
The purpose of Optimize Your School: It’s All About the Strategy is to provide concrete, practical, simple, consistent advice on how to optimize every aspect of schooling. Front and center is the classroom, followed by the leadership of the principal and then the central office functions in finance, operations, personnel and instruction.
I am not saying that the logistics of the transportation department is easy; it is not. However, the transportation does have a big advantage over the instruction department. It is the eyes of the public who report inefficiencies they see and the phone of the parents who wonder why so much time is wasted each day. Learning in school does not always have this advantage.
Let’s take the simple task of student editing. I am selecting editing because it is a task repeated over and over in schools and yet I have never seen logistics applied to one of the least complex of education’s jobs. Teachers prepare sentences and paragraphs with errors placed therein on purpose. Students in grades 1-12 are to find the errors. The problem is a lack of logistics. Nobody brought the 1-12 teachers together to agree upon what errors grade one students should find, which new errors in grade 2, grade 3, and so on. Everybody is doing their best, just like all drivers are doing their best with mixed up bus routes. Beyond agreeing on the errors for each grade level (alignment) the teachers need to agree on formulas for error writing (stabilization). Below is a beginning stabilization formula:
Grade Level Errors Each Assignment Formula
1 5 5 from grade 1
2 6 4 from grade 2; 2 from grade 1
3 7 4 grade 3, 2 grade 2, 1 grade 1
4 8 4 grade 4, 2 grade 3, 2 each grades 1,2
The stabilization process continues until teachers state that editing practice is no longer an aspect of the curriculum. At some point teachers will drop off the inclusion of grade 1 errors as being too simple for almost every student. Then they will drop off grade 2 errors and so on.
Optimizing editing practice gives a glimpse into the content of Optimize Your School: It’s All About the Strategy. The exact same steps for improvement are described, in detail, for improvement of classroom learning, principal leadership and the strategic plans for improvement in operations, finance, personnel and instruction. I know it sounds silly to say that the payroll office (operations), and the science committee can use the same process to optimize their respective responsibilities. It may be silly, but it is what’s needed to make significant, continuous improvements.
I cannot outline everything written in a book in a blog, but I can state step 1 for everyone. The first step to optimize every aspect of a school is to agree on what perfect would be. Everyone knows that no school will be perfect ever, but that does not keep people from agreeing upon what perfect is. In the editing example above, perfect is 100% of the grade 12 students can edit the provided document, finding every error.
My purpose in writing down step 1 is to help readers understand how the same improvement steps can be utilized in all aspects of schooling.