Several weeks ago, I had an insightful conversation with the head of clinical nursing at a local hospital. She discussed the challenge that the hospital was facing to improve patient satisfaction. For months, the nurses’ approach was to standardize care for each patient. Primarily, they were focused on standardization to avoid errors as well as inequity of patient care. The results were disappointing. Patient satisfaction remained relatively unchanged. Then she had a brainstorm--every patient is different! You can’t standardize individual patient care and expect to improve patient satisfaction. The nurses are now looking at each patient individually and addressing each patient’s specific needs and concerns.
Within our profession, there is a strong tendency to standardize schooling. However, just as with nursing, it’s simply not the right thing to do. Each child is different. Each child brings different strengths, interests, and needs. I am so thrilled to be a part of a school district where our teachers and support professionals get that. Regularly, I receive letters and e-mails from parents who are so pleased with the experiences that their children are having in our schools. I want to quote from one note I recently received:
“My son is very, very smart. He loves to work and please. I was very nervous about putting him into public schools this year--until I met his teacher. She deserves a medal! She has spent countless hours working with my son to not only build his confidence, but also allow him to grow as a student. My son is now excelling both academically and behaviorally. I couldn’t have done it alone without his teacher’s great support. And, the principal was right there the entire time helping us along. I just wanted to let you know the EXCEPTIONAL staff you have and how truly blessed I feel to have been involved with them. Thank You!”
We are charged to care for and develop the Whole Child. When students feel safe in school, they are ready to learn. Students who feel connected to school are more likely to stay in school and excel. All students who have access to challenging and engaging academic experiences are better prepared for further education, work, and civic life. These components must work together, not in isolation. And, they can’t be standardized! The demands of a 21st Century education require a Whole Child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement in which we address the uniqueness of each student.
I wish to express my deepest appreciation to each of you for your persistence, professionalism, and commitment to children. I am proud of our school district! I love the remarkable things that you do for children every day. Thank you for contributing to a highly successful school year.