Getting Better

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Jun 28, 2022

As a classroom teacher back in the 60's, 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, and I set out to learn more about how people learn. In pursuit of knowledge, I even got a Ph.D.  During that process, I learned "there is no subject, however complex, if studied with diligence and patience, that will not become less complex."  Learning and getting better is an ongoing process, and as Tommy Lofton has emphasized over the years, we have more fun and get the job done when we work together and help each other get better.


In 2006, two researchers that I got to know well, Cliff St. Germain and Michael Fullan, confirmed that successful businesses and schools are "learning places" where people learn by doing.  They begin with beliefs about what matters most, analyze what works and why.  Then, they look for new and better ways of doing things, solving problems and persisting 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 things they were doing well, the things they could do better, developed a plan for improvement and then evaluated results. 


One of the schools I worked with was in a poor area where most students qualified for free lunch 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 parents had not been very successful in school themselves and didn't know how to help their children.  When I asked 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 parents.  One year later, attendance at parent-teacher meetings and parent-teacher conferences averaged 90%. Every parent and many grandparents were enlisted as volunteers and either worked at the school or did a job at home to help.  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 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. Later members of the faculty jokingly told me that they had "created a monster."  When the parents found out what they could accomplish working together, they organized a group and went to the parish council to get a recreation facility built in their neighborhood.  As a parent told me, "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 Lofton Staffing Services.  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, to quote General George Patton,  "people are told what to do and not how to do it so that they can amaze you with their ingenuity.”  It is a place 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.  It’s an environment where people learn to love Mondays, where people are reminded that life is a temporary assignment and are told to have a good day because you won't get it back.  It’s 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 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 we 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? And finally...we must remember that success is a journey, not a destination, and we grow stronger together!


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.