Monday, July 25, 2011

Defining The Open House Culture

One of the standard practices for school admissions is open house. Similar to a real estate open house, these events invite new families to the school for a few hours to explore the facilities, ask questions, listen to presentations, and satisfy their curiosity about what the school has to offer.

From a school point of view, open house provides a forum to promote the school’s academic, arts, athletics, and enrichment programs on their home field. Teachers are present to talk about their classes, coaches about their teams, parents about their great experiences, etc. The campus is clean and wearing its “Sunday Best.” Students may even be present to give tours and perform.

It is all designed to capture enough of the visitor’s attention to prompt further action: schedule a private tour/meeting, inquire about the admissions process, or fill out an application – the equivalent of making an offer on a house.

For some schools, getting ready for open house is easy. Their natural state of being is closer to the open house condition on a regular basis. For others, getting ready for open house is quite challenging. To show their best, a difficult make over is needed. Using our real estate image, a house that is kept up with and reasonable well maintained is easier to prep for an open house than one in disarray.

Open house, the event, may take place multiple times each year. Open House Culture is constant. It is always present. The Open House Culture answers the question, “How can you be your best at all times?”

It is important to point out that “being YOUR best” is not the same as “being THE best.” There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be THE best.  As a former coach, I completely understand that sentiment.  The challenge with that thinking is that it requires some comparison of schools. 

How else can you evaluate if you are THE best?

But every ounce of energy spent comparing your work to others, is one ounce you cannot spend on doing your best to fulfill your school’s mission.

Being your best is simply defined as giving all you have at that moment. The only comparisons are those we place upon yourself.  This is easier said than done.

Life gets in the way sometimes. You have a life outside of school. As you get older stuff happens. Your children get sick. Your friends and relatives die. Your marriage may fail.  Your car breaks down.

Stuff happens.

Some days you can give 100%. Other days, you may only have 80% “in the tank.” If you only have 80% to give that day, then give 80%. That is what it means to be your best.

Being your best is how you being to develop an Open House Culture in your school.

This culture demands your school be at its best.  It transforms the school into a place that welcomes teachers, students, and families to participate in its present and future operations.

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