So I have this student. He’s struggled since he walked in the door a little over a year ago. Last year was some improvement, but even then, working with him was a huge challenge. He lacked trust in staff and confidence in his own abilities. This year, he is off to a great start. Today, his teachers gushed over his test scores, his behavior, and his leadership. As a result, he earned my first “My Principal is Proud of Me” pencil, and it was well-deserved. I’ve got several other similar stories because that’s what my teachers do. They change lives. Sometimes it takes us about a year (sometimes even more), but when these tough ones finally fall in with the flock, they soar.
My campus mascot is the Eagle, and yes, I know Eagles don’t typically move in flocks, but at my school we do. This is because even though an Eagle is known for its independence, we know that we are better together as a collective. When birds flock together, they move across the sky in a wave. They pick up on the direction of others and adjust. This is what my incredible staff do to ensure that each and every student falls into the flock.
I think schools could learn a great deal from the success of flying as a flock.
- Each bird has to be aware of those around them and takes responsibility for their own steering to avoid crowding or bumping. They work hard to match the direction, alignment, and speed of the others for cohesion. This is how a great system works. In schools, we need each member making sure they work to fit in with the group to ensure a successful flight.
- A flock has to have a strong leader. Flying in formation reduces fatigue on the group. It takes a strong bird to do this, but there has to be someone willing to step up and fill the lead when the “leader” needs a rest. Shared leadership is key to success for any school or organization.
- A flock has to share. Birds benefit from the updraft created by the bird in front of it. In a successful school, teachers have to share with others and be willing to let others rise from their work, knowing it will be given back to them at some point.
- A flock also takes care of the weaker birds. If a bird is hurt, another bird stays with it until it recovers Teaching is a tough job. We always need someone by our side during the tough times.
- Finally, flocks understand the concept of resistance. When one bird is out of sync, it moves to the back to prevent drag on the flock. It’s only normal for a member of an organization to get out of sync every once in a while. But in a great organization, those who are out of sync don’t keep trying to keep their place; they get out of the way, move toward the back and work their way up again. There’s no judgment, just appreciation for putting the system first.
Flying as a flock improves chances of survival in a tough world. It’s hard for a predator to focus on a single victim when there is a group and a group is going to be a tougher fight. Even more important is that a flock can fly further with less effort. I think these are critical keys to success for schools with such an important task in a culture that is not always supportive.
So you may be thinking, we’re not birds. I don’t think it matters. Whether your school is eagles, cardinals, mustangs, or stars, all you have to do is live the principals of a flock. BIrds of a feather, or whatever you are, flock together, and within the flock is the key to success.
Why do birds flock together? (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2017, from https://www.howitworksdaily.com/why-do-birds-flock-together/