Animo Leadership Charter High School

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Month: April 2018

Sustainable Education Reform Is Possible by Focusing on Results to Overcome Under-Education

Posted on April 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

In a recent article by Jay Mathews, education writer of the Washington Post, Mr. Mathews writes about the K.I.P.P. (Knowledge is Power Program) and the above average outcomes that this program is delivering in 43 selected schools throughout the country.

This program focuses on 5 pillars:

  • High Expectations
  • Choice & Commitment
  • More Time
  • Power to Lead
  • Focus on Results

What is interesting to note is the last Pillar – Focus on Results. By embracing the desired end results, this program has shown how to overcome the under-educated culture that is rampant within many urban and even suburban schools.

Focus on Results

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership by authors Linda Martin and Dr. David Mutchler specifically addresses the importance of beginning with the desired results and then developing the shareholders through leadership (see next pillar) to achieve those results. Using this approach of internalization to improve performance is a more logical driver of change than trying to use the traditional approach of externalization.

Power to Lead

Additionally, this program embraces solid leadership skills that include both academic and organizational. Many administrators are good instructional leaders, but are not trained nor developed to be equally good leader managers.

More Time

During the last 25 years, actual time in the classroom has continued to decline even though information is increasing at phenomenal rates. When I was a school board member in the early 1990’s, elementary teachers spent less than 5 hours daily engaged with their students. The other 2 plus hours centered on recess, lunch time and specials such as library, computers, gym, art or music.

Choice and Commitment

Even though KIPP schools appear to be “chartered or choice schools,” the emphasis by all shareholders on commitment is necessary for the success of any organization.

High Expectations

When public education started changing its focus years ago by dumbing down the curriculum, the standard of high expectations was relegated to the bottom. This action also directly contributed to the under-education of students within all schools. Evidence of this is supported by the dismal progress nationally by students through the Nation’s Report Card. When over the course of 33 years 17 year olds students nationally have not improved their reading scores and those scores are not exceptional, these results reflect low expectations. For example, one of the reading questions for 12th grade students asked the following:

The purpose of a tax table is to help you determine: a) gross income b)the amount of tax you owe c)your net earnings d) your allowable deductions.

Less than 2/3 of the students answered this correctly. Given the clue words are tax and table and only one response has the word tax, the inability of 1/3 of the students to answer this correctly clearly demonstrates why there has been no reading progress. And more importantly suggests that we are not developing the knowledge workers required for the 21st century.

Just imagine, if all schools infused these 5 principles identified by KIPP or similar principles within their culture,what types of outcomes could be realized? From a performance perspective, each and every American public school could easily be a Baldrige winner in 5 years. And, our country would once again retain its number one leadership role in education.

P.S. If your immediate response to the statement regarding attaining Baldrige in 5 years was No, Not possible, or She doesn’t know what she is talking about, then you are a victim of low expectations and looking at excuses to justify unacceptable performance.

Who Benefits From Training in the Mega Yacht Industry

Posted on April 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

What follows is an attempt to get the luxury yacht charter industry to face some severe shortcomings in what is being taught and what is being learned by the people in it. The time has come when we must bring ourselves, whether kicking and screaming or through mutual co-operation, onto the next level of professional development for the benefit of all us privileged to be working in the industry. Obviously, some will dismiss all this as a waste of time and another excuse for training providers to screw a few more Euros out of yacht crew: if you instinctively agree with this last statement then this article is addressed to YOU more than anyone else!

Whatever your views many observers both inside and outside the industry feel that ongoing training is essential. A large Italian yacht builder, for example, has recently set up its own crew school and regularly hosts training seminars for its fleet. So if it is already happening what’s the problem?

The impression that I get from the luxury yacht charter crew that I teach seems to reflect both sides of the argument. Like any good instructor I teach in as interactive a style as I can. This means that crew often say things to me that they might not say to their captain or owner (or to my bosses in Blue Water!). Here are a few quotes…

‘Owners should be doing this course!’

‘Captains have no concept of man management!’

‘Crew are lazy and are only looking for the easy way out!’

‘Management companies have very little training in management skills!’

‘Training establishments are only interested in taking your money!’

Of course as many will be quick to point out, the charter yacht industry has already changed a huge amount. In the early 1990s it was recognised that a professional system of qualifications was required for the industry. Yachts were beginning to be built in such numbers and to such a size that t was becoming generally acknowledged that if the industry didn’t take the initiative for training then the government would step in and impose its own standards, not necessarily adapted to the yachting environment. The Professional Yachtsmen’s Association was formed specifically to do this. The result was the old master class 4 and 5, now replaced in line with STCW95 and with a parallel structure for engineers. At first people howled about it but now no one seriously challenges the need for these qualifications. But what has happened since then?

Many people, having got their tickets, seemed to think that they had ‘made it’ and were only bothered to keep their skills updated if required by the MCA, I estimate that only 3% of certificate holders voluntarily return, for non required training or refresher courses, to keep their skill levels up to date.

So, back to the original question, who is benefiting from yacht charter training; the Owner or ships officer who does not have to attend or pay for extra training, or, is it crew and guests who entrust their lives in the yacht management team’s levels of competence? Surely professional skills like passage planning, radar operation, navigation should be maintained to a high level. We often hear of high profile yachts involved in collisions and groundings, but they are just the high profile ones; many more incidents occur which do not receive the same level of attention (but I hear about them on my courses from the crew who witnessed them). In my view increased ongoing professional training would go a long way toward improving this.

In many industries and professions across many parts of the world ongoing professional and personnel training is an accepted and welcome fact of life. In the UK a quality organisation called ‘Investors in People’ has been set up to promote this very thing. In France the government ‘Formation Continue’ scheme is specifically designed to encourage personal and professional training amongst salaried employees. This type of training ensures that the business or organisation continues to improve because the staff avoid professional stagnation.

Investors in People, in fact, promote some strategies to improve the organisation which are conspicuously lacking from the current MCA training programme in areas such as leadership and personnel management, appraisal and assessment skills The Investors in People benchmark offers a framework for improving business performance and competitiveness through good practice in human resource development. Companies and organisations who wish to gain the ‘investors in people’ kite mark must show that they have procedures to monitor performance and develop training strategies to improve it. It runs along similar lines to other quality assurance systems and yachts who are already certified for ISM might not find it too difficult to add type to system on to it. I believe this type of training could improve the wellbeing of everyone connected with the industry.

I have emphasised the importance of continuation yacht charter training in areas concerned with safety but we are not just talking about safety here, we are talking about PERFORMANCE across every aspect of a yacht’s activities. In businesses companies devote resources to training because in the long run it makes them more profitable and efficient. Yachts should not just passively assume that they provide the best possible level of service to owners and charterers they should actively make sure they do by continuation training. Here are some subject area for training that would improve the performance of every yacht

Change management
Time management
Team leadership & management skills
Inter personnel skills
Interviewing skills
Appraisal systems
Safety Management
Project management
Negotiation skills
Financial and accounting skills
Train the trainer

If the industry wants to move on and be seen to move to a higher professional level I feel certain things need to change, Out must go the attitude ‘ It was good enough for me so its good enough for you’ and in must come ‘how can we improve’. Attitudes like ‘its not broken so don’t fix it’ are ultimately doomed to consign any organisation to mediocrity. If you always do today what you did yesterday you will always obtain the same results. How about a course in change management? It is a skill which can be learn: with just small adjustment in how we approach a new concept change can be a positive, informative and helpful process.

Many people in the industry (ashore and afloat) believe they deliver the premier maritime leisure experience available. They could well be right BUT, how can they be sure? Levels of service in yachting (at its best) are second to none, but the level of knowledge required to manage crew (i.e. people), needs to be dramatically improved.

There are still many people in the industry who believe the concept of ongoing personal and professional training is just a distraction. Sometimes they are the first to ask for help; not by asking their own management companies for the information they require for fear of being seen as less than competent, but by asking friends or companies in the industry!!

In conclusion, the above may sound like a training provider looking for work, but I’m sure all who read the article will be able to identify areas where they wish they knew more. Being honest about this and then taking it further and seizing ownership of an industry wide ongoing training programme is what I really would like to promote. Only by working together will we manage the industries’ prolific growth and maintain a large pool of highly motivated and trained staff. There are many people out there wanting to embrace change I believe it’s a great industry but like all great things there is always room for improvement. Lets do it!

The Mythology of the Impoverished High School Dropout and Other Misconceptions

Posted on April 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

Introduction

The typical high dropout is not poor.

Review the statistical report of the performance of schools statewide and review the economic status of the students who dropout and you will find that the ratio of poverty to discontinuance from school is not as highly correlated as the ratio of race/ethnicity to dropout.

The typical dropout is not a minority.

Numerically, the typical high school dropout is a non minority who is not poor.

Minority governed schools do not assure that minority students will thrive there.

Some charters which are created expressly to show that minority governed schools will be more successful because of the race or ethnicity of the school leaders in relation to students have proven to be unsuccessful in student retention or academic achievement.

The truth is the unengaged student will disengage in a school environment that does not positively engage with the educational attainment of each and every student.

On the surface, minority students in predominantly white schools will attain greater levels of retention to graduation, as well, as proficient academic attainment. What would make this so? What is in the culture of some schools and districts that make the success quotient higher when the quotient is not being driven by wealth or affluence or race?

A truth

Effective Administrative and Classroom Leadership are Great Myth Busters

Clearly, there is superior educational leadership in the culture. There is a sound instructional staff. The administration and the classroom leaders facilitate the level of attainment represented in the positive statistical data. The data displaces mythology related to graduation rates, dropout rates and standardized tests performance.

Readers may want specifics to a greater extent. The reality is that success is homegrown. The best answers are found within the environment that seeks growth and improvement for its students. It is the school staff and community that govern the success of students. Parents are as a chorus to the sermon of the school culture. They can connect with the school leadership – administrative and classroom staff and students to create the mythology busting tapestry of effective schools.

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