“Four Vital Questions for Teachers and Principals”


Check out this article inspired by the book of the same name, and catch Dr. Babbage himself at his upcoming Brier Books book signing Sunday, September 23.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Four-Vital-Questions-Teachers-Principals/dp/0998219045

Book Signing FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/416350185520558/?active_tab=discussion

There are many questions throughout our society today which deal with education. Some of those questions will be answered through the political process. Some of those questions will be answered by school boards. Some of those questions will be answered by citizens working to impact laws, policies, and regulations dealing with education. All of the discussions involved in answering those questions are important.

Now, in addition to the questions which will be resolved through political action, school board decisions, or efforts of citizens, there are four vital questions which each teacher and each principal should think about deeply and answer with much certainty.

First, what is our school’s most important goal? People who work at schools often spend much time and effort each year setting goals, creating a lengthy document which details the goals for the upcoming year, and thinking about how to reach those goals. There are times when a school sets so many goals that the effort is divided so much that no goal is fully achieved. Is there an alternative approach?

Yes, establish the school’s one most important goal and concentrate on it. A manageable number of sub-goals which are supportive of, consistent with and which help achieve fulfillment of the most important goal can be considered also, but the major effort will be directed toward the one most important goal.

The most important goal is identified based on abundant input from people who work at the school, from families who are associated with the school, and, depending on the age group, from students who attend the school. Select the goal that, when reached, will do the most good for the most people, ideally, which would do a significant amount of good for every person at the school. Reaching the one most important goal could be more productive than making a scattered effort to reach the many goals on a much longer list and not fully reach any of those multiple goals.

Second, do I always do what matters most and what works best? Schools are busy places. Throughout a school year a variety of activities will occur at the school, yet the most important activity at a school is the work which is done in classrooms. Schools are at their best when day-to-day decisions are made with this guideline – is this supportive of and consistent with what matters most and what works best?

Education is important and deserves ample, in fact, abundant support. Educators do important work and they deserve ample, in fact, abundant support. The work that educators do is demanding and difficult, fascinating and exhausting, inspiring and sometimes heart-breaking. The third question becomes: what makes this work so difficult, and what can I do about that reality? Teachers and principals who address this question and create authentic answers which lead to helpful actions can enhance the work experience for every adult at the school and, consequently, the learning experience for every student at the school.

Fourth, am I always learning about my work, and am I always improving? The busy pace at a school rarely includes time for teachers, school counselors, librarians or media specialists, instructional coaches, principals, assistant principals, and other educators who work at schools to thoroughly, frequently and productively discuss the problems and the opportunities within the school. Educators rarely get to see their colleagues work, but could learn much from visiting each other’s classroom. Learning and improving can be as efficient as trading ideas among the educators at a school.

The book, “Four Vital Questions for Teachers and Principals” is designed to be thoroughly interactive. The reader will answer questions and write many thoughts. In fact, the reader of this book will become the co-author of the book. No two thoroughly read and thoroughly written-in copies of this book will be identical because each reader will, by becoming the co-author, make his or her copy of the book an individualized exploration of the four vital questions.

The book leads the reader on an adventure of thinking, reflecting, learning, and analyzing. The reader does some reading, much thinking, and a lot of writing. For teachers and principals who always knew that they could write a book about education, now is the time.

With many important questions about education being asked and debated, with growing concerns about emerging issues related to education, now is the time for every teacher and every principal, plus all other educators who work at schools, to read about, to think about, and to write about the “Four Vital Questions for Teachers and Principals.”

(Dr. Keen Babbage has 34 years of experience in education. He has worked in middle schools and in high schools. He has written 22 books about education.)

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