Speaking about school and different practices implemented in order to achieve success, it is important to remember that there are a few principles that help to improve the performance of any team or organization. It can be supposed that the identified principles are universal because they can be manifested in the work of different organizations related to various spheres of activity.
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It is supposed that every change starts with small things and then grows rapidly. As for the example from my organization, I suppose that there were many cases when this principle was relevant to my practice at school. Two years ago, all teachers were asked to pay more attention to the use of new equipment. In the very beginning, this innovation was not accepted by some people who belonged to the older generation, and it was concluded that the measure could be called useless. Nevertheless, one teacher who had more than twenty-five years of practice tried to use it and she gradually became a positive example even for younger teachers. In the end, the new practice became extremely popular among the teachers at our school.
According to the second principle mentioned in the chapter “Entering School” of Senges’ “Schools That Learn”, the personal commitment remains an essential component related to the work of any educational institution. I suppose that this principle works at any school because everyone knows that it is impossible to force other people to do something that seems to be boring and unnecessary to them. I remember two colleagues whose attitudes to work were totally different. One of them was quite active, she was likely to accept the initiatives proposed by the administration if she considered them to be helpful for her students. Her co-worker was living in accordance with another principle, he was just trying to fulfill his personal plan and explain the information related to the subject to his students. Therefore, it was also obvious that the students of the first teacher were more active; they tried to contribute to the success of the school whereas the second teacher was not able to motivate his students. As for me, this story illustrates the importance of personal commitment that seems to be even greater when it comes to specialists who can influence future generations.
The third principle mentioned is related to the idea that money is often overestimated as a resource. There is no doubt that financial resources help to create a safer environment for students and provide them with better equipment. At the same time, it cannot be stated that all schools located in low-income regions are unsuccessful. As for my organization, there was a period when we did not have enough money to provide students with the necessary devices to demonstrate slides and videos during the lesson. One teacher decided to conduct a demonstration lesson; he encouraged students to go for a walk and told them about the species of animals common in our region. Thus, I agree that professional competence and inventive power can sometimes be more important than money.
According to the next principle, it is not right to think that organizational learning takes a lot of time. In fact, one has to choose between devoting time to organizational learning and solving problems caused by teachers’ mistakes and lack of knowledge. As it follows from my personal experience, this principle really works because there were a lot of cases when people from my organization had to spend a lot of time trying to mitigate the consequences of their co-teachers’ mistakes. What is more, all of them did not like staff meetings and other events as they supposed them to be unnecessary and time-consuming.
The fifth principle relates to the importance of pilot groups that may help to implement newer practices at schools. Personally, I believe that this principle is significant as it helps to assess the effectiveness of any measure. The representatives of the organization where I work sometimes use pilot groups to define whether lessons based on newer approaches can improve attendance and level of knowledge demonstrated by students. It is necessary to say that the use of pilot groups has already helped the organization to implement a few important practices.
According to the sixth principle, real changes involve the participation of leaders working on different levels. To begin with, it is impossible to change inappropriate conditions if there is only one leader responsible for everything that happens within an organization. As for my personal experience related to this principle, I can say that the model involving leadership on different levels is really effective. For example, this approach is respected in my organization as we do not try to shift the responsibility of a particular person. Instead, there are both formal and informal leaders who are ready to help each other and it definitely allows us to make the organization better.
In the end, it is necessary to remember that organizational learning is impossible without challenges but it is inappropriate to see the latter as a catastrophe. As it follows from my working practice, challenges are unimportant when there is a clear vision of the result. Some of our projects aimed at training teachers were unsuccessful but this failure encouraged us to think more about its causes, so it was also a valuable experience.