Schools That Deliver


John Edwards & Bill Martin

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    Praise for Schools That Deliver

    “I’m pleased to recommend Schools That Deliver as an exceptional work to inspire, rejuvenate, and engage your school staff along a powerfully aligned trajectory toward success. Reimagine your school through the lens of these transformative authors.”

    —Jill Gildea, Superintendent Fremont School District 79 Mundelein, IL

    Schools That Deliver is long overdue in the midst of too much focus on testing and accountability. It has the potential to provide a practical guide coupled with the underlying philosophy to assist school leaders in making their schools engaging environments for all students and staff.”

    —Richard A. Simon, Retired Superintendent of Schools, Adjunct Professor Stony Brook University and Long Island University Post Stony Brook, NY

    “A common thread that separates Schools That Deliver from others is the focus on remaining loyal to the unique personality of each individual school while providing specific tools and procedures to focus on.”

    —Delia McCraley, Principal Southgate Academy Tucson, AZ

    “John Edwards and Bill Martin write about the reality of authentic school issues using proven research and from their own experiences.”

    —Bonnie Tryon, Mentor/Coach SAANYS Representative to NYS Education Department’s NCLB Committee of Practitioners SAANYS Representative to the NYS Teacher of the Year Council Past President, School Administrators Association of New York (SAANYS) Latham, NY


    To Sandra and Vicki


    This book was written by two good friends of mine. They write about the joys and frustrations, the successes and disappointments, the realities and dreams of working in learning organizations. In some ways, this book is a documentary about their sometimes brutal, often humorous and consistently touching realities as front-line school administrators. And in other ways, this book is about their mission as educational provocateurs to draw upon their Personal Practical Knowledge to liberate teachers, administrators, and students’ capacities for autonomous growth, learning, and adaptability: a noble cause.

    I remember meeting John Edwards in 1982 at the first International Conference on Thinking in Fiji. What struck me about this young Australian researcher were his insights about education and his daring to question and seek to transform many of the sacred practices currently in vogue (such as homework, compartmentalization of subject matter, and theories of learning). During his sabbatical, I invited him to spend half a year with me at Sacramento State University. As a single parent, he came with his four children. The impact on my graduate students was profound. Like the irritating grain of sand that creates a pearl, he modeled risk taking, thinking critically about the educational status quo and questioning practices that were “politically correct” but educationally faulty. As a result, my students gained confidence as agile leaders. I introduced John to consulting work and the response from schools was that John was “refreshingly sound.” Since that time, John has matured from a brave, delightfully “brash” young man into a powerful, internationally respected, thinking changemaker.

    In 1990, as principal of Bleyl Junior High School near Houston, Texas, Bill Martin, complete with cowboy boots, invited me to spend time with his staff to explore the teaching of Habits of Mind. I came prepared to introduce the staff to the need for teaching students to think more skillfully and how the Habits of Mind were dispositions of successful, efficacious thinkers that could be taught and learned by students. Habits of Mind flourish in schools where there is trust, where staffs share a common vision, and where the Habits are not only taught but also modeled by all the staff—where they are the norms of the school culture. Much to my amazement, I was greeted by the professional development lead teacher who introduced me to the staff’s motto: “The United Mind Workers.” Amazed, I put my planned presentation notes away, packed up my PowerPoints, and spent the next three days observing and learning from them. They were indeed united as they shared a common vision, were committed to teaching thinking, and supported each other in the process. They went far beyond my expectations due to Bill’s “down-home,” unassuming but powerful, leadership style. I learned how, working in conditions of trust, being focused on students’ needs, having access to resources and given freedom, teachers will liberate their ingenuity and creativity to network, collaborate, and develop a vision that results in programs to which the entire staff and community become committed. As a result, students’ dispositions of persisting, problem solving, collaborating, empathizing, questioning, and continual learning were enhanced.

    Over the years, these two friends found each other, formed an alliance, and have influenced school staffs and business leaders around the world. Based on their leadership experiences, they are dedicated to a few simple but profound concepts which they articulate well for those who read, apply, and live by this book.

    “The Knowledge is in the Room”

    Considering the job’s long hours, generally low pay, mandated curriculum, unpopular testing requirements, and unruly students, I wonder why, despite all the reasons to quit, so many teachers keep at it. Reported by Liz Riggs (2013) from the research by Richard Ingersoll, professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, 68 percent said that supportive leadership was “absolutely essential.” Only 34 percent said the same about higher salaries. I have observed that the main reason why teachers quit is they feel they have no say in decisions that will ultimately affect their teaching. Ingersoll concludes that this lack of classroom autonomy is the biggest source of frustration for teachers nationally.

    Autonomy makes such a difference because micromanagement, the opposite of autonomy, puts people in a threatened state. They become primed to respond quickly and emotionally. Productivity falls and the quality of decisions is diminished. Over time, sustained lack of autonomy is an ongoing source of stress, which causes more reactivity than reflectivity, more “conformativity” rather than creativity. When teachers feel they are being micromanaged their executive thinking (e.g., self-control, paying attention, innovating, planning, and problem solving) become less active (Newton & Davis, 2014).

    In Schools That Deliver, a major driving concept is that “the knowledge is in the room.” Teachers who achieve genuine respect for their skillfulness, stamina and efficacy, and school staffs that achieve collective autonomy, reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of this threat state. The perception of increased choice makes people feel liberated, committed, and collaborative.

    Creating a Culture of Trust and Thought-Full Collaboration

    Working internationally with numerous schools over the years, I have found that the “glue” that holds the staff and the community together is relational trust. Research by Anthony Bryk and Barbara Schneider (2002), not surprisingly, confirmed that trust was a necessary for improved student learning. Chicago schools whose test scores were increasing over the period of this seven-year study had high levels of relational trust. In contrast, low-performing schools had low levels of trust. Relational trust is the trust that is developed through the interpersonal social exchanges that take place in a school community: principal to teacher, principal to parent, teacher to teacher, teacher to student, and teacher to parent. In Schools That Deliver, the leader, or principal, is instrumental in fostering a climate in which relational trust can flourish. Relational trust means respect, competence, personal regard for others, and integrity. It is built by being visible and accessible, behaving consistently, keeping commitments, sharing personal information, keeping confidences, revealing feelings, expressing personal interest in other people, acting non-judgmentally, listening empathically, admitting mistakes, and demonstrating professional knowledge and skills.

    In Schools That Deliver, skillful thinking is prized and practiced. Staffs in which sharing a common language, dialogue, planning, reflecting, and problem resolving are routinely done are those that experience success in adapting to continuing environmental changes while maintaining a sense of personal and collective efficacy (Ritchhart, 2015).

    Thinking interdependently is a leading resource for their responsiveness to change. Collaboration is strengthened by finding, recognizing, and cherishing the interconnections among individuals, schools, communities, and cultures. Interdependence includes a sense of kinship that comes from a unity of being, a sense of sharing a common habitat, and a mutual bonding for common goals and shared values.

    Liberating Leadership in Others

    Schools That Deliver emphasizes that the best part of leading is developing and bringing out the leadership capacities in others. The source of a facilitator’s satisfaction shifts from being the problem solver to developing others’ capacity to solve their own problems and helping others learn from situations, from giving unsolicited expert advice to helping others self-prescribe, from evaluating others to developing others’ disposition for self-evaluation, from holding power to empowering others, from telling to inquiring, and from finding strength in holding on to finding strength in letting go.

    Schools That Deliver is not only sprinkled with numerous testimonies of administrators in schools around the world who have experienced the shift to a new paradigm of leadership, but also laced with powerful, thought-provoking questions that school leaders must ask themselves about their roles as well as deciding on what is the real work of their school.

    The contemporary leader possesses a belief in his or her capacity to serve as an empowering catalyst for building trust in the school culture, for fostering a shared vision among all members of the school community, and for developing the intellectual growth of others. A facilitative leader refrains from giving advice unless asked for, believing in what Cicero stated: “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”

    What Do “Schools That Deliver” Deliver?

    The answer to this question is fairly simple and direct: They enhance student learning! Enhanced student learning, however, depends on the expertise of the teacher (Hattie, 2003). The expertise of the teacher, however, depends largely on the school community in which that teacher operates (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012). And the power and effectiveness of the school community depend largely on the skills and dispositions of its educational leaders (Leithwood & Seashore Louis, 2011). Schools that deliver, therefore, are dedicated to this consistency of enhancing others, who, in turn, ultimately produce maximum growth in students’ acquisition of desired outcomes.

    Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky observed that children grow into the intellectual life of the community in which they live. A school that delivers is one in which learning, fulfillment, and becoming more humane are the primary goals for all students, faculty, and support staff. It is the concept of a learning organization in which self-development, intellectual empowerment, collaboration, and lifelong learning are esteemed core values and all institutions within the culture are constructed to contribute to those goals. What is required for schools that deliver is the emergence of a new kind of leadership—leaders who passionately communicate and reinforce high aspirations for students, who ignite and focus teacher energy, who develop the leadership capacities of teachers, who distribute informed decision making within their schools, and who foster the development of work cultures whose dominant features are self-directedness, collaboration, and inquiry. In a “school that delivers,” the principal carries the vision, sensitivities, and skill sets of cultural change and creates the conditions in which teachers become the leaders of instruction and students become the leaders of the future.

    We are Not in this Alone

    Having worked across many countries in my career, I share with John and Bill strong insights into the power of shared international experience. Readers of this book should be strengthened by the knowledge that our frustrations are not isolated. We are not in this alone and can learn deeply from each other across national boundaries. This book, with its rich international examples, is a powerful start on this journey.

       —Arthur L. Costa

        Emeritus Professor of Education

        California State University, Sacramento


    Bryk, A., & Schneider, B. (2002). Trust in schools: A core resource for improvement. New York, NY: The Russell Sage Foundation.

    Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

    Hattie, J. (2003, October). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Auckland, New Zealand: Australian Council for Educational Research. Retrieved from

    Leithwood, K., & Seashore Louis, K. (2011). Linking leadership to student learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Newton, J., & Davis, J. (2014, July 14). Three secrets of organizational effectiveness: How the practices of “pride builders” can help you build a high-performance culture. Strategy + Business, 76. Retrieved from

    Riggs, L. (2013, October 18). Why do teachers quit? And why do they stay? The Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved from

    Ritchhart, R. (2015). Creating cultures of thinking: The eight forces we must master to truly transform our schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


    This book has grown out of the rich lives of productive people inside school communities that deliver. The narrative of the text is carried by these collective voices, and we acknowledge this shared ownership.

    Inside our tight writing team, Sandra Russell has been our constant ally, helping us keep ourselves true to what we believe. Her contribution to the manuscript has been deep and inspiring. Dr. Jim Butler, an absolute master of creating powerful models, has his influence spread throughout this book. Lisa Wolford has been our internal editor, solid as a rock, clear and fearless in her collegiality and leadership. Vicki Martin’s gentle presence has kept us together as a team throughout the writing journey we have shared.

    Art Costa has been our mentor for over twenty years. He has always shown us great generosity of spirit both professionally and personally. His foreword is highly valued by us both.

    When we started on our writing, we invited ten respected colleagues to be “friends of the book.” We asked them to bring their experience into the book and to challenge us to be our best. As we finalized the manuscript, their eyes and intellects have been our final checkpoint. Together with Sandy and Lisa, Jon Saphier, Brendan Spillane, Mary Wilson, Greg Morgan, Fredrik Höper, Bitte Sundin, Bengt Lennartsson, and Ragnhild Isachsen have been our friends of the book. Once we formed our partnership with Corwin, Dan Alpert, Kim Greenberg, Melanie Birdsall, and their team have provided insight, challenge, and support. Their professionalism is reflected in this book.

    Publisher’s Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Sean Beggin
    • Associate Principal
    • Anoka-Hennepin Secondary Technical Education Program/Anoka Technical College
    • Anoka, MN
    • Ruthanne Bolling
    • Elementary School Instructional Coach
    • Fairview Elementary School
    • Richmond, IN
    • Jill Gildea
    • Superintendent
    • Fremont School District 79
    • Mundelein, IL
    • Jeff Ronneberg
    • Superintendent
    • Spring Lake Park Schools
    • Minneapolis, MN
    • Richard A. Simon
    • Retired Superintendent of Schools, Adjunct Professor, Stony Brook University and Long Island University Post
    • Stony Brook, NY
    • Bonnie Tryon, Mentor/Coach
    • SAANYS Representative to NYS Education Department’s NCLB Committee of Practitioners
    • SAANYS Representative to the NYS Teacher of the Year Council
    • Past President, School Administrators Association of New York (SAANYS)
    • Latham, NY

    About the Authors

    John Edwards has always been fascinated with the beauty of the human mind. He began his working life as a research metallurgist. He has worked as a teacher and department head in schools and in state, national, and international curriculum development roles; and he has written textbooks for schools. Through his extensive university career, he has been one of the leading research grant recipients in cognitive science in Australia. John’s research began in his own classrooms, which led to publications in the areas of the direct teaching of thinking and what children are thinking while teachers are teaching. He has explored areas including how people think, what tests really test, ways to measure the intellectual demand of learning, how to generate successful change in organizations, innovation and creativity, leadership, internally driven transformation of schools, and creating productive feedback environments. He worked on a major project using Piaget’s clinical method to reveal how Southeast Asian children develop science and mathematics concepts. John is Managing Director of Edwards Explorations, an Australia-based company concerned with exploring and developing human potential. He has worked inside many leading Australian and international companies and sporting organizations, to research and deliver powerful cultures of learning. He has dedicated a large part of his life to the work that forms the basis of this book: helping school communities create the schools they know are right for their children. Dr. Edwards is one of the few international researchers to turn his research into award-winning practice in education, in business and industry, and in high-performance sport.

    Bill Martin loves working inside schools to build positive learning environments for children. He has done this for forty-nine years. He taught in primary and middle schools for seventeen years and was a secondary assistant and high school principal for sixteen years. On two occasions, he led large schools to win State and National Blue Ribbon awards for excellence. Since 2003, he has worked with over 180 schools across six countries to support efforts to create powerful learning cultures. He has earned personal awards for educational leadership. In 1991, he was one of five finalists in the first National Secondary Principal of the Year competition sponsored by the NASSP and Metropolitan Life. In 1993, he was named one of ten Principals of Leadership by the National School Safety Center. In 2000, the Michigan State Legislature proclaimed a Special Tribute to Bill’s leadership as principal of Monroe High School. He has presented invited addresses at International Conferences on Thinking in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Sweden, Spain, and Malaysia. He has been a keynote presenter at the International Conference on Ignorance. Bill has served on a United Nations team to make recommendations for the reform of secondary education in Kuwait. He has designed and facilitated long-term professional development programs to grow leadership capacity for the Tønsberg Kommune in Norway and the Varberg and Kungsbacka Kommunes in Sweden. In Lexington (Kentucky) Public Schools, Bill served as the Smaller Learning Community Technical Advisor for the district’s five high schools.


    For us: why write this book?

    For you: why read this book?

    This book is based on the confidence we share that teachers and their communities know how to create the schools needed for their children.

    Both of us have worked in schools most of our lives. This has brought us face-to-face with the current challenging culture within which schools must deliver. This is work demanding courage, authenticity, and character. Most importantly, it demands of us all to be different tomorrow than we are today.

    At the core of our profession is a hunger to be part of learning environments that deliver brilliantly for all involved. We have seen such schools and worked in them and with them. They are a joy. As well, we have listened to many stories of frustration within schools. Teachers share that their school starts on new initiatives, with passion and energy, only to have this fade away with no delivery. The school then starts on another initiative with the same result: nothing absolutely mastered, nothing deeply embedded. Teachers need a sense of completion and achievement as much as their students.

    “Posttraumatic initiative fatigue” (PTIF) would be a great descriptor for what is being experienced in many schools across the world. People with high ideals, desperate to do the job they have trained for, are grieving to see their vision lost. This book is about honoring those visions and bringing sanity to the here and now.

    Within an evolving culture of disrespect for the people who dedicate their lives to the education of our children, few are questioning systems that no longer serve the interests of our children and society at large. This has resulted in a culture of blame, which creates paralysis. To fill this vacuum, there is a growing body of international literature supplying external processes. Everyone has an answer. This book does not bring definitive answers. Let’s be honest: No one size fits all schools. We share skills, models, processes, and insights that enable schools to deliver. These come from real school experiences of successful delivery across six countries and in single schools containing many cultures. They define an approach that works in our times, facing our constraints and our complexity.

    We stand with schools to acknowledge their challenges and face them with courage. This book is based on processes that break negativity and tap the potential currently buried under the weight of external myopia. In the end, only you can discern what is needed in your context. Different contexts demand different approaches. Knowing your own context provides a thread of authenticity. This lights pathways of growth and softens the pressure of external voices. Schools that deliver weave a powerful path between the competing voices and demands from outside. They draw on their inner resources to satisfy both learners and teachers.

    Processes clarifying what is in the hearts and souls of your community for your school are at the core of our work. Having the understandings and processes to then make this a reality on your school site is what we mean by delivery.

    We work with school leaders, staff, parents/caregivers, and their communities to create the schools they have long wanted. They describe what they have developed, in rich interaction with us, as being a fresh and liberating approach. This book reveals how people are working productively together within schools to deliver what really matters for their children. This collective voice provides one valuable benchmark.

    Seeing beyond our own context is difficult for all of us. Our ongoing action research inside schools keeps us in touch with contemporary schooling and the issues faced internationally. Our aim here is to share a rich range of alternative approaches you can use to reflect on your experiences of your own unique school culture.

    Everything in this book has passed the litmus test of working across diverse cultures and situations. We provide quotes and examples throughout the book from colleagues we are learning from and working with. These are schools that deliver.

    We focus on the six central areas for delivery:

    • Alignment, which enables our school to better tap the potential of our people
    • The Real Work, which puts energy into what really matters for delivery
    • Leadership, a disposition that helps us all hold our true course
    • Authentic Action, through which we deliver on our promises
    • Core Values and Culture, which are at the root of our actions, both effective and ineffective
    • Community, the rich human web in which schools are wrapped


    When our school district introduced the hair length rule, I had enforced it strongly, as was expected. I felt the growing anger in our boys, I knew the rule was stupid, but I enforced it anyway. The tension in the school was palpable. I did not speak out against this stupidity; I just did my job. This shooting was one young man’s unskilled and brutal response. I had colluded.

    Never again would I avoid telling the truth.

    This incident is about much more than a hair code. When I talk about telling the truth, about integrity and speaking up, I am not talking about mundane rules. I am talking about school culture. Why did the boy bring a gun to school? It was not simply because of the hair code, I can guarantee you that. Was it because he had been marginalized in such a large school? Was it because he had a mental illness that went unrecognized or unreported? Was it because “Keep one another safe” was not a value of the school, and his buddies who had an inkling of what he was up to did not let anyone know? Was it because he or his family were not connected to the school as a part of a community and had no one to turn to?

    We are still unsure what caused him to act as he did, but our collusion connects to the principles in this book. Culture, connectedness, and community deliver schools that are safe. These are what really mattered back in 1985, as they do now.

    This book for me is about culture, courage, and voice.

    My task was to follow this man, their top steelmaker, for three months and make detailed notes on how he made steel. He was about to retire and he could cook a batch of steel like no one else in the plant. They need to know his secrets; they are worth millions. I still have those detailed notebooks and I still have no idea how he made steel.

    I learned from this old steelmaker about the importance of delivery. This man had exquisite Personal Practical Knowledge, and he delivered magnificently. He could not articulate what he knew and we could not capture it. He retired and pure gold went with him. This experience helped form my lifelong quest to understand how people think and how to value the power and depth of what people know.

    This book for me is about delivering and about deep respect for the knowledge that people carry with them. For us, these blend seamlessly with the culture, courage, and voice mentioned above. Over our years working together the alignment in our thinking is palpable. We have come to our beliefs through very different trajectories: one research based and the other practice based, and we have learned to keep each other honest.

    Our Learning Journey

    Between us, we have almost one hundred years of research and practical experience inside schools. Between us, we have worked in over twenty countries. We are currently working in schools across six countries. As we work, we are constantly responding to challenges alongside our colleagues in schools. Together with them, we observe what works in their context. Over time, we look for what works across different contexts. We tentatively generalize, then continually observe, share, and test more broadly. Ours is a shared never-ending, collaborative learning journey, with each other and with respected teachers and school leaders. We invite you on board.

    For us, theory emerges from practice, not the other way around. We are constantly exploring what works with real teachers and school leaders in real classrooms and real schools. We extend and strengthen our work with every new school experience. We are clear that we do not have “the answers.” We have powerful insights and many questions. This book is made up of elements of practice, each one of which we have observed in lived successful school practice. Many of them our colleagues have reported as transforming their schools and their classrooms. For us, many promising approaches do not stand the heat of practice. This was the screening test for this book.

    Nothing gets into our shared practice until we have used it successfully in our own lives for at least three years. If you cannot make it work yourself, why share it with others? The schools that deliver, around which this book is based, operate in similar ways. Their practice is robust and continuously road tested.

    We are both action learners, so our practice is constantly evolving. Both of us regard feedback as a gift and we are totally open to fresh insights. We have each created strong feedback environments for our own growth and learning. This is central to our professional lives. Respected colleagues have critiqued and recritiqued the many drafts of this book and enriched our writing.

    This book is woven around the voices and experiences of hundreds of teachers, school leaders, and community members. Our action research with them forms the ongoing reality of our work. As you encounter their examples, quotes, and voices, you are accessing the up-to-date manifestations of what we live every day. They keep our work fresh and relevant, in the here and now.

    We robustly challenge each other and invite our colleagues to do the same. We are not “shrinking violets.” Both of us work hard to expose flawed assumptions behind our work and we are constantly on the lookout for unhelpful inferences. Our shared history is littered with these. Thankfully, our history is also filled with delightful moments. We share the joy of what works to create the learning and growth that each child and each teacher deserve.

    This book is our most up-to-date iteration, the 2016 version—what we use today in our daily practice with schools. The book has been written for anyone interested in how schools can better deliver:

    • for children,
    • for families,
    • for teachers,
    • for school leaders, and
    • for the community.
    Our Wording

    We have written this book together, using I, using we, and using you.

    We do not want to confuse you as our reader, so let us explain.

    When we say I—this could be John or Bill writing from his heart. It does not really matter to us which of us is the I in any of what we write and we hope it will not matter to you, as our reader.

    This is a genuinely coauthored book, with two strong core voices. We have also included the voices of many of the people we have learned from and with. To respect these voices, we have used their language and spelling in our quotes.

    When we say we, it could be both of us saying something that we have talked about in our twenty years together or in the many joyful months writing together. We have loved this process. We have deep respect for each other and writing this book has been an absolute professional and personal joy. We are only stopping so that we can write the next one.

    We also write we when we are talking about the education community. We have been part of that community for most of our lives: as school children, teachers-in-training, teachers, leaders in schools, principal, educational researcher, university professor in education, teachers of adults, parents of many children and grandchildren. So we are often using that collegial we—we are in this together, you and us—people who care deeply about education and learning.

    When we say you, we are talking to you, our reader. Reading a book is a deeply personal experience and we want to make it as valuable for you as we can. Part of that for us is establishing a rich interaction between you as our reader and us as writers.

    This is our current best practice.

       —John and Bill

  • Appendix 1 Consensus Building Inquiry Probe Tools

    As outlined in Step 4 in Chapter 1, these processes are used with groups of six to eight people with a facilitator familiar with these processes.

    Classic Brainstorming: Tapping the Experience (PPK) and Mental Models of the Group
    • Collect ideas from members of your group, by asking each person in turn for one idea, going in a clockwise direction. It helps if you can be succinct.
    • Each idea is written down exactly as spoken. No editing. This can require patience to listen carefully and respect exactly what has been said.
    • If a person does not have an idea to contribute, they can say “pass.”
    • Continue collecting ideas from group members until everyone passes.
    • Record the ideas on a sheet of chart paper.
    • Number each idea contributed. This allows people to easily refer to any idea.
    • There must be no discussion at all.
    • The facilitator also votes when it is his or her turn.

    Once you have all of the ideas for an Inquiry Probe, check whether anyone needs clarification of an idea put forward. The only person who can respond to this query is the person who put forward the idea. If the person wants to change the wording to make it clearer, they can do so. There must be no discussion.

    Then check that no one believes any other idea on the list is the same as their idea.

    The group is about to vote on which ideas they most value. You do not want to split the vote on any idea by having two different versions of essentially the same idea on the list. This would mean that an idea that is highly valued would not be voted to the top.

    So, any person who believes that there is another idea that is so similar to theirs that it would split the vote should bring this up. The person who put up the second idea is then asked if they agree. If they agree, then their idea is removed from the list, and its number is written next to “same” idea. (From here on those two ideas stay together—if they are chosen as priority ideas by the group then when they are typed up—the second idea is included under the first with an asterisk.) If the second person does not agree that they are the same, then both ideas are left on the list. Only the two people who put up the ideas can speak. They either agree or disagree that the ideas are the same and you move on quickly. There must be no discussion.

    Once you have your final list of ideas, you need to achieve consensus using 10/4 voting.

    10/4 Voting: Generating Consensus in the Group
    • Each person has 10 votes, including the facilitator.
    • There are three rounds of voting.
    • Each person can use a maximum of 4 votes in any one round of voting. That means they can use 4 votes in the first round, 4 in the second and 2 in the third round; or 4, 3, and 3; or 2, 4, and 4; or 3, 4, and 3; whatever they like. They cannot use 2, 3, and 5.
    • The votes can be distributed any way the person likes among the items on the list, for example, 4 votes all for one item; or 1 vote for each of four different items; or 2 votes, 1 vote, 1 vote for three different items; whatever they like.
    • The person can, over the three rounds, give all of their votes to the same item; or they can spread them as widely as they like. Keep a record of how many votes you use in each round so you know how many you have left.
    Identifying Priority Data

    After the voting is complete, add the scores for each idea or item on the list.

    We need you to separate out the top 3 or 4 ideas on your list. With small organizations, take the top 4 ideas from each group, but once you get above five groups identify only your top 3 ideas from each group. If you have ideas that are voted equal third or equal fourth, you need to submit these “tied ideas” as well.

    Appendix 2 Sample Shared Visions and Research (Preparation for Action) Themes

    Monroe High School (US): Shared Vision

    Our school is a learning community committing itself to maximizing individual growth for our student population. We expect demonstrated academic achievement for every student in accord with the highest standards that stand up to national scrutiny. A professional, enthusiastic, and energetic team challenges students to become the best they can be intellectually, socially, and behaviorally. A strong work ethic permeates the learning environment. Working hard in a warm, caring atmosphere motivates each community member to become a life-long learner by continually thinking productively at the highest levels.

    We function as a transitional experience, getting each student ready for the next stage of life, whatever it may be for that individual. We are a gateway of multiple options for our learners. The entire school community practices decency which encompasses fairness, care taking, and tolerance towards each other. Positive individual responsibility is learned through immediate, sensitive, and consistent interactions about conduct.

    We lay the foundation for each learner to participate comfortably in an increasingly technological society. Our pursuit of the goal of excellence is fueled by cooperation, communication, and teamwork. Success in attaining our goals will be measured by the degree of self-esteem possessed by each community member, the quality of engagement that occurs on a daily basis, and the demonstrated mastery of essential transformational skills by our learners.

    We equip our learners for life in a country and a world in which interdependency links their destiny to that of others, however different those others may be from them.

    Preparation for Action Themes
    • 21st Century Teaching and Learning Best Practice
    • Behaving off of our Core Values
    • Advocating for Students and Staff
    • Making a Large School Feel Small
    • Expanding Our Classrooms into the Community
    • Communication and Feedback
    • Student Voice
    Toråsskolan, grundskola 1-9 (Sverige): Gemensam vision

    På Toråsskolan arbetar vi aktivt med att skapa trygghet för eleverna. Vi skapar en miljö där alla vågar vara delaktiga och vågar säga eller göra fel. Vi tar alla ett gemensamt ansvar för en god lärandemiljö. Eleverna känner sig trygga i sina grupper och respekterade för den de är. Olikheter ses som en tillgång och tron på allas förmåga är alltid närvarande.

    På Toråsskolan är vi en motiverad personalgrupp. Här finns en positiv anda med arbetsglädje som väcker nyfikenhet, inspirerar och motiverar våra elever. Vi ser möjligheter och alla känner sig sedda och trygga i personalgruppen. Vi har en god gemenskap kollegor emellan. Med ett öppet klimat, tillit samt förankrade och synliga spelregler ser vi möjligheter tillsammans.

    På Toråsskolan för vi en tydlig kommunikation där alla berörda medarbetare får nödvändig information för att skapa en gemensam utgångspunkt. Genom ett tydligt ledarskap från ledningen skapas en trygghet och tillit på skolan. Skolledarna lyssnar på pedagogernas önskemål och formar verksamheten därefter.

    På Toråsskolan har vi en stimulerande skolgård, ett uppehållsrum och en caféverksamhet som erbjuder eleverna olika aktiviteter. Vi har ett aktivt elevråd, med ett verkligt inflytande, som arbetar under demokratiska former där alla respekterar de beslut som fattas. Genom detta arbete får eleverna träna demokratiska arbetssätt, lära sig hur man påverkar och vara delaktiga i en aktiv elevorganisation som går från klassrum till ledning.

    På Toråsskolan strävar vi efter ett gemensamt förhållningssätt. Här finns tid för planering tillsammans i arbetslag och ämnesgrupper där pedagoger tar del av varandras idéer vilket leder till att vi blir en skola. Genom gemensam planeringstid tar vi till vara allas kompetens i arbetslagen. Alla ges möjlighet att vara med på utbildning, planering, husmöte, APT mm.

    På Toråsskolan är vi måna om att ge eleverna goda basfärdigheter i läsning, skrivning och matematik. Vi gör eleverna medvetna om vilka målen är på ett tydligt sätt så att alla förstår vad som förväntas av dem. Vi arbetar med exempel på vad som krävs för att nå målen, både före, under och efter arbetet samt ger återkoppling kontinuerligt i verksamheten.

    På Toråsskolan har vi elevgrupper som storleksmässigt medför att varje barn får den tid de behöver. Detta ger möjlighet till snabb återkoppling som gynnar elevernas lärande. Eleverna är med och väljer arbetssätt och redovisningsform utifrån tydliga mål med stöd av pedagogen. De utvärderar även sitt arbete, kamratbedömning och självbedömning är en naturlig del i detta arbete. På Toråsskolan har vi höga förväntningar på eleverna. Genom samarbete mellan pedagoger och mellan pedagoger och elever skapar vi en likvärdig kunskapsbedömning.

    Med elevernas bästa för ögonen tränar vi dem i att uttrycka sina åsikter och att även respektera andras. Vi visar att vi har höga förväntningar på eleverna och gör dem delaktiga i vårt arbete med nolltolerans kring våld och kränkningar. På Toråsskolan är alla barn och elever allas barn och elever.

    Förberedelse för handlingsteman
    • Gemensamt förhållningssätt
    • Positiv lärmiljö
    • Ledarskap och kommunikation
    • Trygg miljö
    • Formativ undervisning/bedömning
    • Elevdemokrati och elevers medverkan
    Toråsskolan Compulsory School (Sweden): Shared Vision

    At Toråsskolan, we work actively to create security for the pupils. We create an environment where everyone dares to be involved and dares to push his ability. We all take shared responsibility for a good learning environment. Pupils feel safe in their groups and respected for who they are. Differences are seen as an asset.

    At Toråsskolan, we are a motivated staff group. There is a positive spirit with the joy that arouses curiosity, inspires and motivates our pupils. Everyone feels cared for and safe in the staff group. We have a good relationship between colleagues. With an open climate, trust, and anchored and visible game rules, we see opportunities together.

    At Toråsskolan, we have a clear communication with all employees. They receive the necessary information to create the prerequisites for good activities and a common approach. Clear leadership, security, and trust ensure participation at school. Teachers listen to thoughts and wishes and take them into account in the development of the school.

    At Toråsskolan, we have a stimulating school playground, a lounge and a café business that offers pupils a variety of activities. We have an active Pupil Council, with a real influence, which works democratically with all respect for the decisions taken. Through this work, the pupils practice the democratic approach, and learn how to influence and be involved in an active pupil organization that goes from classroom to leadership.

    At Toråsskolan, we strive for a common approach. There is time for planning individually and together in teams and groups of substance. Educators are sharing each other’s ideas and expertise so that we become a school. Everyone is given the opportunity to participate in training, planning, House meeting, APT, etc.

    At Toråsskolan, we are keen to provide pupils with good basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics. We make pupils aware of the targets in a clear manner so that everyone understands what is expected of them. We work with examples of what is required to achieve these goals, both before, during and after work, as well as provide feedback continuously in operation.

    At Toråsskolan, we have pupil class groups that mean that each child gets the time they need. This allows for quick feedback that promotes pupil learning. Pupils are using and choose work procedures and accounting forms based on clear objectives, with the support of the teacher. They also evaluate their work. Peer assessment and self-assessment are an integral part of this work. At Toråsskolan, we have high expectations of the pupils. Through cooperation between teachers and between teachers and pupils, we seek comparable knowledge assessment.

    With the pupils’ best interests at heart we train them to express their opinions and to respect others. We make pupils involved in our work with zero tolerance on violence and violations. At Toråsskolan, all children and pupils are everyone’s children and pupils.

    Preparation for Action Themes
    • Common Approach
    • Good Learning Environment
    • Leadership and Communication
    • Safe Environment
    • Formative Teaching/Assessment
    • Pupil Democracy and Pupil Participation
    Junction Park STATE School (Australia): Shared Vision

    Junction Park State School is a creative and vibrant learning environment. Learning is stimulating, innovative and exciting. We support each other and care for each other. Our strength is our welcoming and inclusive community. We value individuals from all social and cultural backgrounds; everyone has ownership. We share the courage to change; to challenge the way we have always done things and to innovate in our teaching. We are a school where great ideas are embraced. We find and support the spark in every student.

    All members of our community share our vision to develop a love of learning and a lifelong learner. We believe that learning outcomes are maximised by working collaboratively. We value strong partnerships between staff, students, parents, and community who are involved in and committed to our school. Communication in our school is open; all voices are heard and respected.

    We have the best staff with specialised skills. They are role models who inspire students to be the best they can be. Our teaching builds on students’ interests, strengths and learning styles. Strategic early intervention sets the foundation for learning. Engaging learning occurs both inside and outside the classroom.

    We have well-resourced classrooms with up-to-date technology. Our students are eager to progress and reach new heights. Our school is recognised as a place where there are high expectations for students and staff. Our students have a rich repertoire of thinking skills and can generate ideas for themselves. Everyone is willing to give new ideas a go.

    We value the history of Junction Park State School. Our heritage buildings, school song and school motto, Fortitude and Fidelity, richly represent the history of our school. We are all part of the Junction Park extended family; together we care for our school resources, our outdoor environment and we are not wasteful. Our school environment is lush and green, supporting sustainable practices. Our whole school community takes responsibility for our environment.

    We relate to each other with professional respect, courtesy and good humour. We work as a team and value different ideas. All staff are encouraged and mentored. Our Professional Development is targeted to specific goals that reinforce our whole school vision. It is continuous, consistent and has ongoing support. Through this, our staff keep up with international best practice. We play to our strengths and always strive to improve.

    We ensure that there are daily opportunities for every student to shine.

    Preparation for Action Themes
    • Designing and implementing innovative classroom teaching.
    • Quality professional development.
    • Creative, vibrant, dynamic learning environments.
    • Using the richness of our community: working together through collaboration, communication and consultation.
    Lincoln Heights Primary School (New Zealand): Shared Vision

    We are a school community where enjoyment and fun are valued. We ensure that learning is dynamic and that students, staff and parents enjoy a sense of belonging. The quality of relationships among us creates powerful connections.

    We advertise openly what we are doing, and publicly celebrate the life of the school. The physical environment of the school is clean and safe. This ensures the physical, emotional, spiritual and social health of our school community.

    Our staff is a most precious resource. He aha te mea nui i roto i tenei oa? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata! (It may be asked, what is the biggest thing in the world? ’Tis people! ’Tis people! ‘Tis people!) They are valued and appreciated. Creating balance in the lives of all members of our school community is central to our way of living and learning together. Lincoln Heights is a school with strong, supportive, caring and positive leaders. Lead teachers provide in-class support for other teachers. Teachers are supported with effective behaviour management resources so that every learner is successful. Achievements are celebrated for all members in our community.

    At Lincoln Heights, diversity is our strength. We set high expectations for achievement for every child. Our curriculum is matched to our students; it is relevant to their lives and their futures. We gather quality data to inform our planning, to keep an accurate track of what has been achieved, and to continuously improve the learning environment for each child in our care. Children willingly take risks as they learn and understand that mistakes are opportunities towards success. Literacy and numeracy assessment data as well as national and international data prove our students are successful.

    Quality teaching and learning is our way of life. Our staff is the energy source for teaching and infusing thinking skills throughout our curriculum. Our learners have the courage to explore and source their own knowledge. They question skilfully and make up their own minds using global and analytical thinking. Parents and community leaders are invited to participate and help make decisions to sustain our culture of thinking.

    Celebration events, extra-curricular activities (e.g., Sporting programmes, Mathematics Challenges, Music School, and Care Program), open days, and social gatherings are designed as opportunities for our community to think and learn together—kotahitanga. Our classrooms are real-life thinking environments where students are continually challenged to make decisions and constantly solve problems. A continuous professional learning programme assures that our teachers are expert in the thinking processes that our children take into the world. At Lincoln Heights we are ‘Developers of Inquiring Minds’.

    Preparation for Action Themes
    • Authentic Assessment
    • Lead Management: Creating a Lincoln Heights Culture of Leadership
    • Lincoln Heights Thinking Skills Curriculum: Teaching and Learning Thinking Skills
    • Communication, Collaboration and Participation in Supportive/Thoughtful Communities
    • Enhancing Positive Behaviour and Cultural Diversity

    Appendix 3 The Long-Term School Development Plan

    There are three steps in this process:

    • Preparing and presenting Task Descriptors
    • Critiquing and analyzing Task Descriptors
    • Designing and implementing the plan
    Preparing and Presenting Task Descriptors

    Over the last year, each team has been researching their theme on behalf of the whole school community. They now recommend what must be implemented to enable achievement of their part of the Shared Vision. Each team presents a maximum of two Task Descriptors—recommendations of the tasks to be undertaken in their theme area to lead the school forward. They provide clear evidence to support their Task Descriptors and show how they link to the Shared Vision.

    A Task Descriptor answers this focus question in the present tense, as if it is happening now:

    • What will our school look like when this Task Descriptor is implemented?

    So, for example, our Task Descriptor could be

    • We have three-way conferences among parents, students, and teachers as a basis for designing individual learning programs.


    • Each of our students learns a core set of Thinking Skills and Thinking Dispositions that have been designed by us to fit our culture.


    • We have a feedback culture where every staff member and every student receives rich, skilled daily feedback.

    The quality of the Task Descriptors is crucial. The school community has committed to implement what the team creates. The Task Descriptors represent the best of the team’s creativity and intellect, and what they are convinced will work best in their school context.

    Critiquing and Analyzing Task Descriptors

    Each team presents their Task Descriptors to the school community. Each person rates the Task Descriptor as ready for implementation or in need of more work. They also provide more detailed feedback on the strength of the Task Descriptors and any suggestions for improvement. The school leadership team uses these ratings and feedback as input to their plan design process.

    The leadership team also rates each Task Descriptor against a set of their own criteria. Commonly used criteria include the following:

    • The Level of Perspective (Vision Level, Mental Model Level, Systemic Structure Level, Pattern of Behavior Level, or Event Level, as outlined in the “Explanatory Power” section of Chapter 1)
    • Perceived impact on student learning
    • How long it would take to implement
    • Cost to implement
    • Amount of staff development required
    Designing and Implementing the Plan

    The Task Descriptors that are ready to implement are sequenced into the plan.

    This sequence is dependent on the interaction of many factors, such as the criteria listed above. This demands “big picture” synthetic thinking from the leadership team. Here are some design lessons we have learned:

    • Look for initial tasks that have both a high rating on Levels of Perspective and high impact on student learning. These are absolute winners if implemented early.
    • Look for tasks that can be accomplished with little cost, time, energy, and/or training. These offer “easy wins.”
    • Always remember you are on a journey. Be careful about doing too much too fast, especially if it involves staff development.
    • Complex tasks may need to be implemented over two or three years.
    • Every task, before implementation, must be “fit for your context.” This may involve a period of trialing, gathering data, and action learning, to get it “just right” for you.
    • Implement ONE TASK at a time, and see it right through to the finish.
    • Be VERY careful. You must not overload staff or disperse their energies and passion.
    • The draft implementation plan is taken back to staff for feedback before the final version is agreed.
    • Implementation teams are formed, with a “sponsor” from the leadership team to keep them connected to leadership.
    • Implementation teams commonly elect their own leader and design their own operational structure.
    • Each year, you need to revisit your plan to match it against what you have learned from the year, any changes to your context, and what may now make better sense.

    Appendix 4 Sample Personal Visions

    (Shared with permission from three teachers.)

    Teacher 1: Personal Vision 2012

    After thinking 2011 would be a year of consolidation, the things I achieved surpassed my personal vision: bought a house, completed my degree, hit sub 90s in golf, lost 13kg in weight, dating, and professionally developing in confidence to tackle those difficult conversations.

    This year will not involve any external study but will allow me time to read more professionally for the maths and leadership development we are involved in. One of my main challenges at work is to ensure the team collaborate and share responsibilities. I will ensure the leaders in our team take their responsibility seriously in tracking data and student achievement across the team. I also ensure teachers understand the personal and collective responsibility we all have to make a difference. I enjoy my role in developing home/school partnerships and am excited by the positive way the staff support this initiative already.

    Being in your 50s and thinner is a great place to be. I am more confident with who I am as a person and ensure I have time for the things I want to do and with the people I want to do this with. 2012 is a year for me. One of my main aims is to reduce my golf handicap and enjoy representing my club in the pennants team and at the same time meet new people and improve my golf.

    I still need to develop a stronger backbone when dealing with my dysfunctional kids. There is no rescuing of them this year, as they need to learn how to manage themselves and save to meet the demands life throws at them. Rescuing them only creates issues.

    Spending time with friends is important to me and in doing so ensures balance in my life—a skill I am improving at all the time.

    As I did enjoy study last year I will take this up again in 2013 and do some post grad leadership papers.

    I love overseas travel but finances don’t allow it at present. I am putting money away so this can become a reality in 2013 and beyond.

    Teacher 2: My Personal Vision for 2014

    This year is DIFFERENT. Different at home, different at work and different for me. I no longer want to feel that I just exist and life is happening to me.

    A light bulb went off in my head at retreat this year when discussing the need to learn, unlearn and relearn to be learners and educators in the 21st century, as this is exactly what I am going to do with my own life to move forward.

    So how am I going to make this year different? I have taken the first step by changing age levels this year. I cannot run my programme the way I have run it for the past five years so I have to change my way of thinking and teaching and that is a good thing.

    Like many books I have read, I had read ‘The Fish Philosophy’ a few years ago and been inspired by it but had forgotten that in order to live it, I needed to practice it daily. This is my tool for this year.

    At Home
    • Choose My Attitude. I take the time to stop, get changed and adjust into my family role when I come home.
    • Make Someone’s Day. I notice what we do well, how we have helped each other and celebrate our little successes.
    • Be Present. I actually listen instead of just nodding when asking someone about his or her day and make an effort to enquire further.
    • Play. I go swimming, go out for coffee and ice cream, walk the dog, and watch my son play tennis and rugby and my daughter swim. I also help my husband with the home DIY when I can.
    At Work
    • Choose My Attitude. I use the drive to and from home to stop and adjust my attitude.
    • Make Someone’s Day. I ensure I notice and thank colleagues, friends, students and parents, for all they do.
    • Be Present. I stop to listen and talk with others, rather than continuing to walk on.
    • Play. I enjoy playing, dancing, making, drawing, colouring and learning alongside my class of younger learners.
    • Choose My Attitude. I make a conscious effort to quieten the negative voice in my head by actually saying STOP when I hear it. I have been told in the past to thank it for trying to protect me but it is not true and at the very least, it is just opinion—not fact.
    • Make My Day. I enjoy the hugs and hand holding ☺. Young children do not do these things unless they want to, there is no ulterior motive, just a need to be connected and secure.
    • Be Present. Instead of worrying about what is ahead, I remember that by focusing on the now and the lesson at hand, things will fall into place—and if they don’t I will handle that too.
    • Play. I walk, read, go to the movies, go window-shopping, swim and take the occasional nana nap when needed.

    So to 2014 . . . BRING IT ON ☺.

    Teacher 3: Personal Vision 2015

    The year 2015 promises to be quite different from any other at our school to date due to the focus on stronger collaboration, both in planning and teaching, the wide spread use of Google Drive as a tool for sharing, collaborative curriculum planning and assessment and the introduction of electronic devices in everyday classroom learning situations.

    My philosophy for learning is: I believe learning flourishes when learners feel safe, valued and encouraged to ‘give things a go’. This has guided my actions from week one. I am taking the time to observe the children in our room and truly get to know them. I am able to have discussions with them about their lives and their learning so that I can relate to them in a way that can best meet their individual needs.

    Also, this year I am more open with parents from early in the term—sharing any concerns as well as successes. Our team meetings work well. We are able to speak freely and make decisions after dialogue. We focus on listening to each other and talking through any issues that develop each week.

    Six words that come to mind when I consider this year are: openness, candidness, support, questioning, perseverance and balance. Openness to the different personalities, thinking and practices of the teachers and students in the team; candidness during team meetings and allowing others to be candid in return; support—encouraging others when the going gets tough; questioning—how can I best tackle ideas and activities that are challenging; perseverance to keep the balance in my life so that I remain positive.

    This year I am further building my skills in teaching writing and so I am having some discussions with colleagues regarding successes they have experienced. I am observing their teaching practices so that I am an effective teacher of writing across the team.

    With the arrival of our third daughter home permanently, family life has been given a rather large boost, which is great. This year, at the end of March my husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary. He will also reach retirement age at the end of the year—so a few milestones are ahead of us in 2015.

    I will continue to pursue gardening and sport this year and build on friendships at every opportunity. The gift of a Kindle has opened up a world of reading material that is affordable. I devoured fiction books over the holidays and now have a copy of the Bible installed so that spiritually I can be fed at the touch of a screen.

    As I reflect on the year ahead I feel it will be a defining one in many ways. There is no doubt in my mind that there are a number of challenges facing me. Through prayer, commitment and support from my family and colleagues I look forward to meeting these as and when they arrive and am able to look back and smile at the opportunities that have come my way to help me grow.


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