Glass Half Full: Important to ask oneself, ‘What can I do better’?
Glass Half Full
Last week, Lake Tahoe School hosted a group of educators from seven other independent schools in the northwest region. LTS is accredited on a repeating eight-year cycle by the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (NWAIS).
For the past eighteen months, the faculty and administration of Lake Tahoe School have conducted a very thorough self-study in response to a detailed list of specific questions generated by the Board of Governors and Accreditation Committee of NWAIS. Incline High School recently worked their way through a similar process, directed by a different governing body.
The purpose and the results are the same, and every established school or school system expects and depends upon these rigorous exercises to validate what we do. As our Visiting Team noted to the faculty at the outset of their time on campus, their purpose was to see if we do what we say we do. I am sure the same opening was delivered, in one way or another, to IES a few months ago.
True educators take very seriously the responsibility of delivering the best programs possible to our students. It is not unusual for parents, in general, to have strong feelings about what should and should not be done in schools, what constitutes “good teaching.” After all, everyone went to school, and we have strong feelings and memories about our experiences.
The fact is that, like most everything else, schools need to determine what pedagogy and strategies are agelessly effective and what should change over time. I like to compare what we do to the medical profession. Doctors still use those little hammers to check our reflexes; tongue depressors have not changed much over the years; and a good bedside manner is part of what makes a doctor effective and trusted.
At the same time, we would not feel comfortable or secure in an office that evidenced no changes since we were children. The accreditation process, which uses objective measures, confirms what we do well and where we need to improve.
The NWAIS visiting team could not have been more complimentary about Lake Tahoe School students, teachers, parents, and Board of Trustees. They spoke specifically about the strength and diversity of our program. Equally important, in my opinion, they noted that part of what distinguishes LTS students is their kindness toward each other, their appreciation for their teachers, and the fact that they seem to love coming to school. As Head of School, those observations fill me with pride and gratitude.
I am not aware of the specific commendations that the accrediting body bestowed upon IES, though I am confident there were many. What I can guess is that the true educators among that faculty and administration responded exactly as one of my teachers did.
She confided that her immediate second response (the first being relief, pride, and delight) was: What can I do better? Both the commendations and recommendations motivate her to become even better at her craft. I could not ask for more.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.