A seasoned administrator once told me that he had visited many schools during his career, and that regardless of the academic performance of the individual school, he always picked up some good ideas during those visits.
Although he did not use the term, he was referring to a phenomenon social scientists call “positive deviants.” A positive deviant is a person who is getting results that deviate in a positive direction from the norm. For example, a teacher in a high poverty, low performing school who is getting excellent student test results would be considered a positive deviant.
In an article in the Kappan Journal, Arvind Singhal, suggest that one high leverage strategy for improving an organization’s bottom line is to identify positive deviants, document what they are doing, and then replicate those strategies throughout the organization.
As school leaders, we know through data and observations those teachers who are getting the highest student learning results. Armed with this information, we could then document what they are doing and guide other teachers to adopt those strategies. Because of potential jealously of their colleagues, we probably need to find subtle ways to replicate what these positive deviants are doing without calling undue attention to them.
This no cost, research proven improvement strategy, when wisely employed, could improve our bottom line – learning.
“Uncovering Innovations That Are Invisible in Plain Sight” by Arvind Singhal in Phi Delta Kappan, November 2013 (Vol. 95, #3, p. 28-33)