Well, that’s obvious! If I say schools are for humans, you may think I’m wasting my breath. Who (or what) else would school be for? But from what I’ve seen, I think it can’t be said enough. Sometimes, in an effort to build an institution, to articulate a value proposition, maintain standards, ensure a rigorous curriculum, make budgets, or uphold behavioral policies we lose track of the fact that we’re in it for the humans – and the humanity – in our schools.
When I hear a board member listing his (many, many) demands of a head of school, I wonder if the board member recalls that the head of school is a human.
When a head of school asks me, “How can I make my teachers _____?” I wonder if she remembers that teachers are humans.
When a teacher rolls his eyes and sighs with exasperation because that student is holding up his lesson, I wonder if he understands that the child is only human.
Schools are phenomenally complex communities with an outstanding collection of individual passions, talents, hopes, wounds, fears, and frustrations. The people (and emotions) in our schools are not the obstacle to doing the work of schooling – they are the work of schooling.
Standards are important. Systems, curriculum spirals, and codes of conduct matter. But they don’t matter as ends in themselves. They matter because of how they help all of the people in the school building – the head, the teacher, the lay leader, the janitor, and above all the student – become more uniquely human.
Let’s think about board meetings and staff meetings, behavior charts and homework, professional development plans and contract negotiations. Let’s check that they’re designed with real people in mind. Let’s make sure we’re building and sustaining schools for humans.