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6 Ideas for Helping Principals With Evolving a Culture of Excellence

How can we help schools shift from revolving practices to evolving a culture of excellence?

Let’s start with discussing the notion of “change”. As much as we sometimes may not want it to happen, change is inevitable. The good news about change, especially in an organisation like a school, is that it’s not just beneficial. Depending on how we approach it, it can be positively transformational.

In the grand theatre of organisational change, two distinct paths emerge: the path of Revolving and the path of Evolving. Though seemingly similar in their motion, these paths diverge significantly in their essence and destination.

revolving vs evolving

Imagine a merry-go-round in a bustling carnival. The vibrant carousel spins incessantly, adorned with new and varied riders who enthusiastically hop on. Yet, despite the flurry of motion and the dizzying array of activities, the carousel remains fixed in its place, encircling the same ground, over and over again. This is the essence of Revolving: an organisation caught in a ceaseless cycle of busyness. Initiatives appear with a flourish, only to be discarded as swiftly as they came. There is movement but no progress; activity but no advancement. The energy expended yields no true direction, leaving the organisation in a perpetual state of frenetic stasis.

In stark contrast, envision the majestic ascent of a hot air balloon. As it rises, every adjustment, every added burst of flame, is deliberate and calculated, propelling it higher into the sky. This ascent is not random but guided by the winds of purpose and the currents of intention. Each change is a step toward a defined horizon, a measurable milestone that marks the journey’s progress. This is Evolving: the path of purposeful transformation. Here, every initiative is a conscious provocation designed to elevate the organisation and drive it toward its envisioned future. The changes are meaningful, the impacts measurable, and the journey, though dynamic, is always forward-moving.

The 6 Aspects of Excellence and 6 Ideas for Using  Them

The cycle of revolving can be broken, and the journey toward evolving can be initiated through an intentional focus on The Six Aspects of Excellence, which provide measurable benchmarks and robust structures that guide organisations like schools from a state of perpetual busyness to purposeful transformation:

Purpose, Vision, and Implementation

purpse-vision-TPRevolving organisations lack clear direction. By establishing a strong purpose and vision, and implementing initiatives aligned with these goals, organisations begin their journey of evolving.

Practical Step: Principals can initiate visioning workshops with teachers, students, and parents to collectively define the school’s purpose and long-term goals. This ensures alignment and commitment from all stakeholders.

Continuous Learning and Development

learning-developmentIn a culture of evolving, learning is ongoing and intentional. Organisations prioritise the development of their members, ensuring that every step forward is informed and supported by appropriate knowledge and skills.

Practical Step: Establish professional learning communities (PLCs) where teachers collaborate to share best practices and engage in continuous professional development. Regular training sessions and workshops should be held to keep staff updated on the latest educational strategies and technologies.

Learner Engagement, Achievement, and Well-being

engagement-achievement-wellbeingEvolving organisations focus on the well-being and engagement of their members. By fostering an environment where individuals are motivated and supported, progress becomes a collective endeavour.

Practical Step: Implement student-centred learning approaches that cater to diverse learning styles and needs. Create a supportive environment with resources such as counselling services, extracurricular activities, and wellness programs to ensure holistic development.

Empowerment and Agency

agency-empowermentIn evolving organisations, individuals are empowered to take ownership of their roles and contribute meaningfully to the organisation’s goals. This contrasts with revolving organisations, where initiatives often lack personal investment.

Practical Step: Develop leadership opportunities for teachers and students. Encourage teachers to lead initiatives and projects, and establish student councils or clubs that allow students to have a voice in school matters and take on leadership roles.

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

community-stakeholderEvolving organisations actively engage with their communities and stakeholders. This external focus ensures that changes are relevant and impactful, driving the organisation forward.

Practical Step: Build strong relationships with parents, local businesses, and community organisations. Organise regular events such as open houses, community forums, and partnership programs that involve stakeholders in the school’s activities and decision-making processes.

Efficiency and Adaptability

adaptabilityEvolving organisations are always striving to be adaptable and efficient. They respond to changes with agility and purpose, ensuring that every action taken contributes to their overarching goals.

Practical Step: Utilise data-driven decision-making to identify areas for improvement and track progress. Implement flexible structures that allow for quick adjustments to strategies and programs based on feedback and evolving needs.

Building Momentum

Both paths, revolving and evolving, share a common element: momentum.

It is the unseen force that perpetuates movement, making it seem effortless in a culture of excellence and overwhelming in an organisation caught in a cycle of busyness. In revolving, the momentum of continuous, aimless activity creates a whirlwind of tasks that, despite their intensity, lead nowhere. This incessant spinning becomes a source of exhaustion, as the organisation remains trapped in a loop of unproductive motion.

Conversely, in evolving, intentional change compounds through momentum. Each purposeful step forward builds upon the last, creating a synergy that propels the organisation towards its goals with increasing ease and efficiency. This momentum transforms the journey of change into a seamless flow, where progress feels natural and sustainable. Even when movement slows, the direction remains clear, and the accumulated energy of past efforts continues to drive the organisation forward.

The merry-go-round and hot air balloon provide a powerful metaphor for organizational change. One path spins in place, expending energy without direction; the other ascends with purpose, every movement a deliberate stride towards a greater goal. To choose evolving over revolving is to embrace a journey of intentional growth, where every initiative is a step toward excellence, and every change a beacon guiding the way forward. Momentum, in this journey, becomes the quiet force that amplifies effort and sustains progress, ensuring that the path to excellence is not only attainable but inevitable.

By adopting these practical strategies, principals can transform their schools into dynamic, forward-moving institutions where excellence is not just an aspiration, but a reality.