I spent this past weekend watching one of my favorite jam bands put on two amazing concerts at Alpine Valley. As I was watching the shows I could not get education out of my head. It never seems to leave my brain no matter how much I try to let things go from time to time.
There was one point where the band underwent a massive solo fest where each member was able to solo a little bit. Watching this moment made me think that schools should look and operate like a rock band. Here are six reasons why.
1. Lead Singer - every school needs this central figure head that people go to as the leader. This person brings on the charm and leads the rest of the band or in the case of schools the employees. They can raise and lower the mood/energy as needed and connect with the fans through their words and actions Schools needs this same person to lead the staff and connect with the community/parents/students and keep everyone involved. This is the PR person that is the face of the band and school. This is not always easy as there are times when they have to speak on behalf of everyone. Who is this leader of your school? Is it your principal? Could it be someone different? I think we always assume the principal is this person, but is that just an expectation or a mindset? Perhaps the principal is the drum player and thus requiring someone else to step up?
2. Drums - This person is vital to ensuring that everyone is on the same beat and groove. They sit in the back and though not always visually noticed, everyone knows who they are and how important their role is to the band. Schools need this same person. Not everyone can be the lead singer, but that does not mean that this person is any less important. This is the go to person. They can bring people back to flow if someone gets off track and and any given point has the power to straighten people out with a massive drum solo where they just take over as needed to get the job done. This person is the nucleus of the group. They intertwine everyone to be sure all is on the same page. Their presence is felt by everyone, but they just don't sit in the limelight.
3. Bass - This person is another vital component. Probably even less visual despite being seen the whole time because their role can be overshadowed by the lead singer, drummer, and other band members. However, they provide that extra layer of play that makes the guitar sound sweeter and drum sound stronger. This is that person in schools that goes unnoticed and sometimes forgotten, but when they go missing it is felt by all. In schools this is that third person of the leadership team behind the lead singer and drummer to finalize the structure of leadership. This person can go through and fill in all the gaps and strengthen other components of the school as needed.
4. Guitar - A must and necessity of any great rock band. Rarely are their voices heard, but they lead by action. They bring the flare. They stand out due to their skills. It is those special moments where they let loose and people just say, "Wow!" They don't have to talk the talk. They lead by their actions. A little flashy, but never is it seen as showing off because it comes at the right time and the right place. Schools need teachers like this that just lead by their teaching. They create the lessons and projects that everyone talks about. They don't have to talk and persuade people about their ideas because their actions do all the talking. They are the all-stars of teaching. Not everyone can be this type of teacher, but they provide the vibe that everyone strives for because we all want to be that person with the amazing guitar solo.
5. Guest Musicians - Every once in a while a band will bring in a guest musician for a change in a few songs. It brings fresh perspective and an added layer to a song that needs something extra. Sometimes the result is unknown. They just make the magic happen on stage on the spot. It is that level of excitement of the unknown that reignites the atmosphere. Schools need these game changers as well. With social media it is easier than ever to bring in a guest speaker or person to shake things up, inspire us to do something different and see what happens. Schools cannot be stagnate. They must constantly push the envelope and see where the next amazing thing can be found. Perhaps it is not even a guest speaker, but a change in the system. The new layer of structure or teaching that breaks the mold and causes everyone to think differently.
6. Respect - During the solos what I found to be the key moment to connecting the show to education is the appreciation each band member had for one another. When Carter was doing the drum solo, Dave was off on the side loving every minute. They were smiling and high fiving. Boyd started a solo on the violin and Dave is letting him have his moment. He does not need to be in the spotlight. They are all connected. They could jump in at any time and join and let the magic happen. There is just this bond they have that allows them to have their own space and time in the limelight. They understand that without any one of them the band is not as great and the band changes. Schools need to be the same way. They need to have a connection where they all feel valued. They all understand their roles and accept their place. They also understand that their role is vital to the overall success of the building. There are times when the leader of the school has to step aside and give others a chance to shine. There are times when other members connect and make magic happen with a new project or professional development. In the end everyone understands that as a building they are on the journey together.
So is your school a rock band? Who are these players for your school? If you don't have these players, then perhaps it is time to recruit and find them. If your school has these players, then it is time to rehearse and get ready to rock and roll!