Accelerating educational success for every learner
'If you were to ask me, ‘What is the most important thing in the world?’
I would reply,
‘It is people, it is people, it is people.’
How do we keep a balance between monitoring the data and remembering to see our students as individual people? (Yes, we did just refer to students as “people”. It’s not a mistake.) How do we use the data we gather to help our students become the best version of themselves that they can possibly be? How do we use it to help our teachers and community become the best they can possibly be?
Others have coined the phrase “Shift happens”. Our role as school trustees is to make sure that “shift happens” for our students. That’s what we mean by “Accelerating educational success”. In the 1970s’ TV show, The Six-Million-Dollar Man they used to say “We have the technology... We can make him better than he was. Better… faster… stronger.” That’s what we aim to do for our students; maybe not to leap over tall buildings but to understand and thrive in the world outside school better, faster and stronger. And to take their turn in ‘making shift happen’.
Our schools provide a service, not just a series of educational products. Providing a service is about finding what works for each individual, not just “here’s what we’re selling, take it or leave it”. We need to know how the educational systems and products we use work. We also need to know our students, teachers and communities as individual people, so we know which of those systems or products match their existing needs and abilities. Either on its own is not enough to accelerate educational success.
The most important service we provide is to our students. Our students are not just numbers or bums-on-seats - they’re people. More than that, they are our people. They are our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews, our neighbours. They are also the people who will govern the world we grow old in. There is no more important work than helping them to grow into the best and most accomplished people they can be.
Students aren't the only learners in a school community either. Teacher professional development, parent information evenings, board of trustees PD, and ‘the School of Life’ … it’s all learning too. And it all has a common purpose: to shift things from the status quo to make ourselves better than we were before.
It sometimes feels as if we’re being told that what matters for boards of trustees these days is data not people. That’s the wrong message. The data is important, but so are the people (students, parents, school staff, other trustees…) The data is important for the patterns it reveals and what those patterns mean for the people we work with. Data is never the whole picture, or even the point, but it’s an important part of the picture.
This year’s conference focusses on how we as boards of trustees can shift what we do to create a culture in our schools that accelerates educational success for every learner.
As with previous years your NZSTA conference once again offers a wonderful smorgasbord of workshops that will inspire you, rejuvenate you and continue to give you the confidence to make the right decisions for every child/student in our schools.
Welcome to Conference 2016
'Ui mai ki ahau, ‘He aha te mea nui o te Ao?’
Māku e kī atu,
‘He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.’
Nga mihi nui kia a koutou katoa
Lorraine Kerr MNZM
New Zealand School Trustees Association
Te Whakaroputanga Kaitiaki Kura o Aotearoa