Over the past several weeks, I’ve asked you to consider the question “why” and how it impacts transforming education. The ability to answer the question “why” results in a sense of purpose. Daniel Pink, author of Drive, tells us that purpose is one of three drivers that support intrinsic motivation.
Purpose is important for individuals and for groups, for while schools may get a little better when isolated individuals improve, they can get a whole lot better when the entire group improves. Our focus in Urbandale is to raise the performance level of all staff in our district so that every student experiences high levels of quality learning in every school and classroom across the district.
At our beginning of the year teacher workshop, teachers were presented with the opportunity to find greater purpose in their work by reflecting on and examining the theory that drives their work. As educators we focus a great deal on “how” but not always on “why.” Answering “why,” in other words looking at the theory that supports our work, is key, for according to Dr. Edward Deming, without theory no learning can occur and learning is the cornerstone of improvement.
Learning collaboratively is a significant factor in the improvement of our entire system, which is why professional development time is so critical. Without these common times, our staff is left to learn alone as individuals. Learning alone, while beneficial, is not enough to improve the entire system.
Professional learning time for educators is our method of improving as an entire district. Professional learning is linked to our vision and mission in order to promote deeper meaning for staff. This sense of purpose is a key factor in the performance and improvement of our staff, which ultimately results in higher quality learner-centered learning opportunities for our students.
Our vision, “to become a school district that brings learning to life” overflows with purpose, for in order to bring learning to life we must make it meaningful for our learners.
I invite you to consider the “power of purpose” in the improvement of our entire district, by asking yourself to what degree purpose or lack of purpose impacts your own work and life.