So after a long, long journey as a school, and a lot of hard work, the day is finally here…the visiting accreditation team arrived on Friday night! This is my third time through the accreditation process, with three different schools and in three different countries, and I have to say that with each time it feels really good to get to this point. Going through the accreditation process as a school, regardless of the organization that you choose, is an exercise that should be embraced as an opportunity to grow and to better yourselves as a community. An opportunity to look critically at the educational experience that you are providing for your students, and most importantly, to authentically dig deep into whether or not you are actually “walking the walk”, and living up to what you claim to be for the outside world. This process helps schools to look in the mirror so to speak, and to find ways to get better as an organization so that ultimately, student learning in maximized.
It can be a nerve wracking and humbling experience at times I know, to have an external set (or several sets) of eyes pouring through your school policies, curriculum documents, adopted programs, and all the rest, and once the team arrives on campus you want everything to go perfectly. You want them to see what you see as community members, who live the experience each and every day…happy and engaged students, dedicated and caring teachers, solid and researched based educational programs at work, and authentic learning opportunities for kids at every turn. It’s only natural to be a little nervous and hopeful that these things shine through, and you know what, they will, because here’s the thing…good schools are a lot harder on themselves then any accreditation team will ever be.
Good schools don’t wait five or ten years for the accreditation cycle to roll around to evaluate themselves, they do it each and every day…in every meeting, in every classroom visit, in every interaction with students. Good schools are constantly looking in the mirror, finding ways to improve every aspect of the student experience, and they already know where they need to go. More than anything, an accreditation visit will hopefully just consolidate what you already know as a school, and at the end of the day, it will be a true celebration of your hard work and your dedication to constant improvement.
I’m really looking forward to this week because I know that we are a very good school, and I know that the best parts of our environment will shine through for our guests. I’m excited about getting their feedback, and partnering with them to set goals for institutional self improvement…it’s always, always a great exercise to have an external team come in and look at your school, and it shouldn’t be something that schools fear or dread or shy away from. The accreditation process should be embraced, and looked on as an opportunity to do better. They are not here to catch us out or to find fault…they are here to partner with us to improve, and what good school doesn’t want that? Without this external set of eyes, it will be very difficult to get to where we need to go, which at the end of the day is at a place where good turns to great. After this long journey as a team, I can already see that we’re well on our way.
I want to thank everyone involved in this process over the past couple of years, especially Shannon Sacher and Mark Russo for leading us so professionally…we were always in good hands with you. Enjoy the week and the experience everyone, and get ready to celebrate on Friday…you all deserve a huge celebration.
Great TED Talks –
Fun Videos to Start Your Day-