Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Treating Students as Volunteers - A Mashup of LeadershipFreak and Phil Schlechty

“Perhaps the most important understanding here is that students are volunteers, whether we want them to be or not. Their attendance can be commanded, but their attention must be earned. Their compliance can be insisted on, but their commitment is under their own control.”  -Phil Schlechty

From 2007 - 2009, I worked in a school system that followed the Schlechty Center Framework for school transformation. A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog post by my friend Dan Rockwell, and it reminded me of the quote above and the assumptions of the Schlechty framework. Phil Schelchty posed that students are volunteers. (Additionally, the late Peter Drucker stated that employees should be treated like volunteers.)

Why is it important that we treat people, more specifically students, like volunteers?

Dan's blog post is all about leading volunteers. What if we took his advice and applied it to students? 

(Below, you can read excerpts from Dan's blog post. I replaced the word "volunteers" in his post with the word "students.")


#1. Help them.

The first question to ask students is, “How can we serve you?”
Talk about them before talking about you.
Learn what makes students tick before explaining what you need them to do. 

#2. Adapt:

Align your language with the students.
Leaders who align the way they talk with the language of students show respect and connect.

#3. Help us:

How can you help us?
Serving is a two way street. Don’t stop with, “How can we serve you?” If you do, you may end up with self-centered, self-serving students.
Give students the opportunity to fulfill their inner drives. Help them find roles that enhance meaning, align with strengths, and make meaningful contribution.

#4. Clarify:

Students want to know what success looks like, how they add value, and what you add to the process.

#5. Intervene:

Students appreciate you stepping in when things go wrong.
When things go wrong, take responsibility with curiosity, compassion, and vision for the future.

Have you ever volunteered for something and it seemed as though that the only thing that was cared about was you showing up and completing the task?

Do you think students ever feel like this?

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