Guest post — What Does It Mean to Be a High-Vibrancy School?

Guest post by Annabel Membrillo Jimenez and Jennifer Berman, members of the emerging global Vibrancy community

Do you know a school where something special happening is happening?  Do you feel inspired and fully engaged in the interactions you have with teachers, staff, and students?  Are students fully seen for who they are?  Is their inner potential unleashed?  Does the school re-define what it means to be an outstanding school in service to students and the future?  If you have answered yes to these questions, then you most likely know a high-vibrancy school.

So how do you know if your school or any other school really is a high-vibrancy school? After working with several high-vibrancy schools, we have noticed a few common characteristics.  The schools we have worked with are a mix of public, private, urban, and rural schools with socioeconomic and racial diversity, but in each school you can feel and see a set of core agreements that drive decision making, structures and behavior.

INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURES IN ALL LEVELS

  • School leaders explore and implement innovative leadership structures and engage in transformation from a place of abundance and possibility.
  • School leaders feel ownership of and responsibility for student and whole-community development.  Department/group leadership supports evolving practices.  There is a culture of respect and support for leaders at all levels (principals, teachers, staff, and parents).
  • Leadership can come from anyone. Actions, ideas and proposals flow from every conversation, including those with students.

A DEEP SHARED PURPOSE WITH CLEAR STRATEGIES

  • Schools are centered on student development.  The whole community (internal and external) supports each child in realizing his/her full potential and development.
  • Schools are mission-driven, with a vision that evolves over time as needed– i.e., explicitly supporting children to be active, engaged human beings with supportive programming and structures.
  • Clear pathways exist to achieve that vision, including structures to help assess what is working, what is not, and what new solutions exist.
  • There is evidence of extraordinary results (success indicators coming from tangible results in the school and larger community).
  • There is a strong emphasis on stakeholder development and a deep shared purpose embraced by the wider community. 

 PERMANENT EVOLVING CULTURES/COMMUNITY

  • There is a strong culture of learning, collaboration, trust, respect, and transparency among students, parents, faculty and staff.
  • High value is placed on community engagement in the life and structures of the school. The school community is engaged in transformation at all levels (personal, group, school, external community).
  • Leadership and others have a high level of awareness of what is happening within the community.

INNOVATIVE EDUCATION MODELS AND EVOLVING CURRICULUM

  • There are continuously evolving education models that meet the needs of students and creatively support students to achieve their highest potential.
  • Stakeholders think systemically about what factors influence children’s growth and education.
  • Alliances with groups outside the school leverage whole child development.
  • Every event with the students is clearly related to the curricula and there is a shared understanding of its educational value (class, festivals, community and parent engagement)

Are you one of these schools or do you know one of these schools? If so, share your story with us. Most likely, you are already looking for other like-minded colleagues with whom you can share and explore.  We would love to help you find each other, so that together we can help co-design the next generation of schools that this world needs.

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Help Us Find Amazing K-12 Schools

Do you know an amazing school?  We, at the Institute for Strategic Clarity, are looking for “high vibrancy” K-12 schools.

By K-12. we mean kindergarten through 12th grade, from ages 4-5 to 17-18 years old.  Primary and secondary education.

By “high vibrancy,” we mean a school community that is energy enhancing, where people experience a high level of vibrancy, every day, where the school achieves surprisingly amazing results on a sustainable basis.

The Institute for Strategic Clarity is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization committed to understanding and sharing what drives high vibrancy, abundance-based agreements, so that everyone everywhere can choose such agreements every day.

If you know of such a school, we would love to know about them.  We want to (1) understand what makes them amazing, (2) support them in understanding this as well, and (3) connect them with leaders from other schools who have also figured out how to live this way every day.

What can you do?  Take a brief survey (click here) to describe the school and why you think it is amazing.  We would like to thank you for identifying the schools by offering you a free electronic version of my recent book on abundance-based agreements Ecosynomicsyou get to choose which version you prefer of the e-book or audiobook.

What we will do.  Based on what you share with us, we would like to contact the amazing schools, get to know them, and invite them to meet others like them.

Guest post — Ecosynomics: Improving Schools Strengthening Communities

Guest blog by Carol Gorelick

On April 16, 2014 I presented Harmonic Vibrancy/Ecosynomics at the STIA+ Conference, with an example from my ABC Connects work. ABC Connects began as a three year, Kellogg Foundation funded, action-learning project. The ABC Connects pilot used the Community School Based Learning Model as the framework to work with disadvantaged schools and communities in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and Detroit, Michigan U.S. A.

My approach was to set the stage for a new view of scarcity and abundance in the context of poverty in underserved and disadvantaged communities.  I began by asking the participants to identify their own feelings of scarcity (fear) and abundance (happiness). Then I described the situation in South Africa showing some slides, including the entrance to the Pefferville school building.  I went on to describe Detroit, including a picture of the Barbara Jordan School. (Click here for the PowerPoint presentation and here for the video of the talk.)

I asked: WHICH COMMUNITY REPRESENTS SCARCITY? WHICH ABUNDANCE?  The answer is obvious.  BUT/AND.  The answer was not so obvious when I showed pictures of children in a Detroit school and a video clip of a 9th grade South African boy, giving a passionate speech to his peers, at a community school event.  The presentation ended with the following questions:

  • WHY don’t all seeds get to fully grow and blossom?
  • WHY can’t all kids reach their full potential?
  • WHAT IF schools in need become sites of community empowerment?
  • WHAT IF all schools and communities were functioning at high vibrancy?

Carol Gorelick is co-founder and Executive Director of ABC Connects, working in the U.S. and South Africa to develop school-community partnerships that strengthen schools and build communities.  Having worked in large global companies, a consultancy, and taught at Pace University and the University of Cape Town in MBA and Executive MBA programs, Carol bridges the worlds of practice, capacity building, and research. She is founding board member of STIA+ and a former elected trustee of the Society for Organizational Learning and co-chair of the Executive Committee.