Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 Questions Looking for a "Yes" Answer! (Book Excerpt)

     I am thrilled to be part of an author team with Charlie Coleman and Chris Weber and happy to see the book will be out this week (http://tinyurl.com/3zj6tns). Here's an excerpt that is timely as our thoughts drift away from the recently completed school year and towards the upcoming one:

     Educators must make a commitment to approach challenges in a positive way, by helping students find their passion as they prepare for a world vastly different than the one we faced. We cannot change the students who come into our schools; rather, we must change our approach to working with them. We must commit to proactively serving students by anticipating their needs.

     We can predict that students will experience frustration, confusion, and perhaps failure in the absence of clearly articulated routines, structures, and expectations for their learning environment. Over the years, as we have worked with many staffs in a number of school districts, our repertoire of strategies for improving student behavior and overall educational effectiveness has evolved. While there can be no complete, exhaustive list of strategies for making a difference with students, we hope that those presented in our book will help you and your school community get to a place where staff, students, and community members can answer “Yes!” to the following ten questions (Hierck, 2009a):
1. Does everyone in our school agree on why we are here?
2. Does everyone really believe we can make a difference for all kids?
3. In terms of making a difference, do we have a common school-wide vision?
4. Are clear and specific school-wide systems in place to make our vision a reality?
5. Are classroom plans in place that match the school-wide systems?
6. Are individual student support options in place?
7. Do procedures in the office support the school, classroom, and individual plans?
8. Does every adult talk about these plans openly, regularly, and systematically?
9. Do we know, with measurable evidence, that the plans are making a difference?
10. If our plans are not making a difference, are we willing to try something new?
     I hope you'll enjoy the book and look forward to any feedback you might want to share.


  1. Tom
    This post has really come at the right time for me. I have been working on a "start of the year" retreat for my staff. The theme is "who we are and what we do". The main focus will be to confirm alignmnet between who we say we are and what we do - in relation to our stated mission and vision. I am hoping that all participants will be able to reflect on their own practices as professionals. You have given me more to think about. Thanks

  2. Thanks Johnny. I think this is a good time to reflect and I think your planning phase and concepts will go a long way to ensuring an outstanding school year for staff and students. Each of the ten questions is an invitation to explore what we value and how we deliver on those beliefs.