OACS Governance Conference explored how the right people are what makes schools good to great
ANCASTER, Ont. — The Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) executive director Dr. Adrian Guldemond discussed the importance of schools having the right people to go from good to great as part of his keynote speech at the organization’s Nov. 7 Governance Conference.
Making decisions about staffing is a tough job and is the big question confronting school boards, said Guldemond.
“Teachers are the key to the quality of the school,” he said.
Guldemond said from the school board’s point of view there is a need for policies and contracts to be in place that will ensure the best possible staff in the school. He noted this is important for the school and its ability to recruit students.
The definition of school quality is changing, said Guldemond.
In the “old days” school quality meant that students were behaving themselves and in their desks.
In the 1990s, school quality hinged on student attitudes towards school.
Today, school quality refers to continuous improvements in student achievement, he said.
“The reason why we are calling attention to teaching staff is in order to get to this kind of school (that has continuous improvements in student achievement) the staff needs to work as a professional learning community,” said Guldemond.
According to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, “The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it.”
Guldemond told delegates — who were mostly OACS board members and principals — that the research indicates the solution to turning a poor school into an average school lies in the governance structure, which in the case of member schools is the board.
“The good news is the boards can actually fix this themselves,” he said, and noted there are a number of ways boards can improve the organization’s operation.
To move from average performance to good performance high-quality administration is required, which is not a board function, he said.
And to go from good to great the right teachers need to be in the right positions at the school.
“Here’s the question that’s going to be facing a lot of schools in the future — to get beyond the regular norms it’s going to be not the question of having teachers, it’s the question of having the right teachers in the right classrooms in the school,” said Guldemond.
“That is the direction the education sector is moving in, so we’ll need to rethink some of our assumptions about employer and employee relationships and I am sure we are up to the task,” he said.
The OACS hosted its 2009 Governance Conference and annual general meeting at Hamilton District Christian School in Ancaster.