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Releasing The Domino Effect: Student Achievement in Schools

We’re honored to have Lawrence Lussier, Superintendent of Education at the Pembina Trails School Division, as our guest blogger today. Lawrence is dedicated to 21st Century learning outcomes (inquiry-based, student-driven, meaningful, and personalized), providing a rich learning environment which leads to life-long engagement and success in today's world.     

Ever hear of the domino effect?

In its truest definition, it means a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on, in a linear sequence.

The educational landscape is a great example of this rippling pattern.

When leaders become more engaged, teachers become more engaged.  When teachers are more engaged, students are more engaged.  We know that when students are more engaged, the result is that student achievement increases, naturally and almost organically.

One domino falling onto another…and then another.

When the School Board in Pembina Trails School Division, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, decided to set three clear expectations for student learning, they took a bold step into a bright future. And, the reverberation could be heard and felt from our top leadership, right down to the classroom.

Expectation #1:

“All students will be personally and intellectually engaged in their learning.”

Expectation #2:

“By the end of Grade 8, all students will meet provincial curricular outcomes in literacy and numeracy, so that they will have the greatest chance for success in high school."

Expectation #3:

"All students will graduate from high school."

The Board also approved that Senior Administration establish major initiatives, among them being the integration of coaching into the culture of the school division.

To support these initiatives and expectations, Pembina Trails formed community partnerships. Under this umbrella, we honed in on a philosophy that would meet and override our challenges, while giving us a sustainable change model for the future. Making the grade for our students depends upon our ability to be role models, to inspire, and to motivate them to find their greatest potential.

“Being” vs. “Doing”

Over the last two years, we have partnered with iPEC under the auspices of their Coach Centric Leadership™ for Education Professionals Program (CCLEP). Its cornerstone, Energy Leadership, was founded on more than 30 years of scientific research and application, enabling our frontline leaders to change their perspectives and ‘show up’ with a more positive view of the places in which they live and work. This slight change in energy and behavior, which soon becomes a natural way of being, had an impact on those around them, and it began to transform our school’s culture.

The rippling became bigger and bigger. One domino met its counterpart, and so on and so forth.

This is because coaching is about moving forward, identifying the challenge, and then finding a solution. It’s not about staying stagnant; attitudes begin to change and building consciousness, in this way, inspires others to answer the call to support student learning.  Soon, even the attitude of the ‘resistors’ in a school culture becomes different.

We are absolutely convinced that building consciousness and engagement in our leaders has a positive and powerful effect on our core mission -- supporting student learning and increasing student achievement.

So, as an educator and leader, ask yourself: how can I set an example today that will have an impact on student success tomorrow, the day after, and the year after that?

Be the domino that tips the scales toward people, power, and performance.

Lawrence Lussier, M.Ed., CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
Superintendent of Education
Pembina Trails School Division