Today at the administrator's lunch at The Academy Charter School in Broomfield, the group discussed "An Ethic of Excellence" by Ron Berger. Ron Berger talks about creating a culture of high expectations and a focus on excellence. In fact, he told about a situation where his students did a presentation and then the adults asked them questions about why they work at such a high level and the students didn't understand the line of questions. For them, working at a high level was the norm and they couldn't imagine doing anything differently.
How does a school that doesn't have a culture of quality ingrain that into parents, students and staff? If a teacher doesn't understand high quality work, will he/she ever be able to understand it and convey consistent high expectations for students? How can teachers, across the different content areas, ensure consistent standards for writing, research papers, or general homework assignments? These were some of the questions considered in the small discussions.
In the school where Ron Berger works he was able to create a culture of excellence because the entire town had the same values and the students learned these values of excellence as youngsters. By the time they reached sixth grade, Mr. Berger's class, they were ready to work at higher levels.
Students don't learn to work at a level of excellence overnight. It comes through years of consistent expectations, teachers that are relentless in holding all students to improvement and a school-wide culture that supports excellence. Most often, this begins with the adults in the building who hold high expectations for themselves.