Getting Better

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Oct 27, 2020

As a classroom teacher, I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students, to help them learn and grow. I cared deeply, but I soon learned that caring was not enough, so I set out to learn more about how people learn.  In pursuit of knowledge, I even got a Ph.D., but in the process I learned that “there is no subject, however complex, if studied with diligence and patience, will not become more complex.”  Learning and getting better is an ongoing process, but as Tommy often reminds us, we have more fun and get the job done when we work together and help each other get better.                

Some forty years of research now confirm that successful schools and successful businesses are “learning places” where people learn by doing (St. Germain & Fullan, 2006). They begin with beliefs about what matters most, analyze what works and why, look for new and better ways of doing things, solve problems, and persist in spite of failure. They learn with and from each other.   

From 1979 to 1988, I learned by doing as part of a statewide school improvement effort. A group of us worked with schools to help them learn and get better. Together we identified the things they were doing well and the things they could do better, developed a plan for improvement, and evaluated results. One of the schools I worked with was in a poor area where most students qualified for free lunches and achievement was low. The buildings were old and not very inviting. Teachers were discouraged and concerned about the low level of parent involvement and support.  Many of the parents had not been successful in school themselves and didn’t know how to help their children.  When I asked the teachers what they had done to get parents more involved, they realized they had done very little.  Together the teachers brainstormed ideas and developed a plan with specific action steps and timelines for involving and reaching every parent. One year later, attendance at parent-teacher meetings and parent-teacher conferences averaged 90%.  Every parent and many grandparents were enlisted as volunteers and worked at the school or did a job at home to help the school. Based on hours of service, parents received T-shirts and other recognition.  The parents themselves organized a “Do-Dad” Club that worked to improve the physical appearance of the school.  Proudly wearing their “Do-Dad” hats, they painted the buildings inside and out, planted shrubs and flowers, and built furniture and cabinets for the classrooms. Each parent’s name was listed in the main hall of the building, and it was not unusual to see parents standing looking proudly at their name.  It was then that I became convinced that “an individual could make a difference, but a team could make a miracle.” Later members of the faculty jokingly told me that they had “created a monster.” When the parents found out what they could accomplish by working together, they had organized a group and gone to the parish council to get a recreation facility built in their neighborhood.  As a parent told me in another school where similar results occurred, “This project is not just changing a school. It’s changing a whole community.”                

While I was learning by doing, Tommy, too, was learning by doing. In 1979, he began the Lofton Corporation. Building on what he had learned in his years in industry, his goal was to create a work environment where people could have fun and be better; where people expect fair pay, fair treatment, and an opportunity to learn; where people are told what to do and not how to do it so that they can amaze you with their ingenuity; where relationships are built one on one; where problems are viewed as opportunities to build relationships and trust; where people feel better when they leave than when they came; where people learn to love Mondays; where people are reminded that life is a temporary assignment and to have a good day because you won’t get it back; and where people do what they do for the joy of it—where people study, train, and work not only to serve clients but to serve each other, understanding that if they help each other to improve, they have already helped themselves. Tommy’s criteria for hiring was “Do you care? Can I trust you? Do you want to be better?”                

Evidence collected over the past 40 years confirms that we are getting better, but improvement is an ongoing process.  As individuals and as an organization, we must continually ask (1) What are the things we are doing well? What are we good at? (2) What works and why? (3) What is the evidence that we are good at these things?  (4) Do our perceptions match the perceptions of others? (5) What are our weaknesses? What do we need to do better?


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.