A school is a very vulnerable idea and reality. There are concentric cycles of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that work together or against one another for the furtherance of a school. A school’s parents, faculty, administration, and board must all work together in their separate spheres for a school to succeed.
As drawing is very difficult in this medium, allow me to try and write out the various spheres. Looking then at this four layered concentric circle, the outer most layer is that of Parents. Next in should be the Board. Then comes the Administration. And in the inner most layer, right at the heart of the circle, is the Faculty. Let me try to explain this setup as it may seem different than many contructions would have it.
Several notes as I begin: A) the levels indicate the amount of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that is needed by the level for the success of the school’s vision – it does attempt to build classes of citizenry within the community, but rather seeks to show that not all levels need to “go as deep” in the vision of the school for the school to succeed.
At the level of the parent, there is often a minimum of “theoretical understanding” but a huge dose of daily experience. If the parents struggle to trust the other spheres, and especially if this is because either they do not seek to be well informed, or the other spheres keep this “blissfully ignorant” there will be problems. The trust is imperative because the parents cannot obtain the same level of “inner circle” wisdom as those in the inner circle. This is to say that if a parent in the school has a rather limited knowledge of the school’s vision, they can still be happy and blessed in the community.
I place the Board, which is very important to the success of any school, in the next level because they must have more grasp of the specifics of the vision, but their limit is due to their geographic involvement. That is to say they are not in the school everyday, so again, a great deal of trust must be given toward the middle of the circle. A strong board is not one that manages the school, but rather one that directs the long term plans of the school and seeks the money necessary to fund those plans.
Again, in the third level, some would be surprised to find the Administration. In particular, many would expect the Head to be at the center of any school circle. In this circle, that would cripple the mission. A good administration is simply the servants of those carrying out the mission – they are resource folks for the front line teachers. They must deeply understand the mission and vision of the school, but they can’t be in every class every day all day. Thus trust moves inward again.
At the heart of a quality school is faculty that “gets it.” They feel the trust of all the circles outside them and give themselves daily to the mission and vision of the school. As their greatest fears are usually given to them from the other three levels, as the trust grows, their confidence rises, and thus their ability to teach well surges.
So trust must move inward. If any of these levels fails to trust those inside their circle, the school will feel this infidelity and be rocked by it. Trust is at the heart of community, and trust determines the quality of any school.