Internal Alignment

With these two classroom experiments, Jami now had evidence of something real. As the year was drawing to a close, she asked me to come in and share what we had learned with her entire teaching staff.

The teachers trusted Jami. She had built that trust over the preceding couple of years. She knew that deep cultural change could not happen without that trust.

This trust had been built through a very painful process of moving to a proficiency-based grading system. The transition had almost pulled the entire staff apart, but they got through it.

Proficiency-based grading requires much more of teachers. Grading a student is no longer based on averaging a set of test scores, but individually assessing specific skills that have been defined as learning targets for that particular subject. It’s hard and time-consuming. But it’s really important. Most schools who attempted the transition gave up. But not Dayton; they pushed through.

The courage that Jami demonstrated in that process forged with her staff a deep trust in her leadership. So when she introduced me, an outsider who had been experimenting in their school, they were willing to listen.

Without directly experiencing this new culture, most didn't fully appreciate what we had learned. But they knew something different was happening. They all knew Katelyn. They all knew Caleb. And they all knew Michelle. Something was happening.

The school year was now drawing to a close. Normally, teachers by the end of the year were exhausted, ready to crawl out the door for their summer reprieve. But Jami noticed something different. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. The teachers were more energized going into their summer break than she had ever seen them.

They were beginning to align to a new vision.

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