LE 4: Educational Change

Reading Specialist Summer 2014

In this LE we learned about the principles of educational change and we explored a variety of ways to implement educational change in reading.
Belinda shared the following video in her summative task. If you haven't seen this video already, I would highly recommend that you watch it. It reinforces just how important you are as leaders.
Drew Dudley "Everyday Leadership" - TED Talks

YOUR QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT EDUCATIONAL CHANGE

Lauren asked. . . how to motivate those who are unmotivated

  • I wonder if people are really unmotivated or just don't want to speak up in a group. If they are unmotivated (and let's face it we will meet with this) I wonder if sometimes actions speak louder than words. Could we show them how a new strategy works? If we can find a small step that could serve as an entry point for our colleague they may see the change as something they can manage. I had a colleague who was a bit older and who really struggled with new technology and the expectation that she is using it to improve literacy in her classroom. It wasn't that she was unmotivated but she was definitely intimidated. With some help from her colleagues she was able to use several strategies for technology with her students. She learned and the students learned too! (Clare)
  • I think it's important that changes are well articulated and visible to everyone. (Kristina)

Kristina asked. . . does rewarding risk takers and successes foster a healthy environment for change?

  • I think that it depends how it is looked at. Some people may see this as reward, but others might see this as a sign of appreciation. I think that it is important that people feel that they are appreciated for what they do in their job. Being appreciated is definitely motivating. (Arla)
  • I'm not too sure if it breeds a healthy environment or not. But at the same time rewarding those who take risk and are open to change is sometimes necessary to get the ball rolling. Sometimes incentive is needed.I agree with Arla and how some people could think of it as a sign of appreciation and that feeling appreciated is motivating as well. If know when I do not feel appreciated, I feel less motivated. (Sherry)

Clare asked. . . How do we encourage the quiet staff members or the ones who like to listen and process ideas before contributing their thinking? On the flip side, how do we manage those who talk a lot and who dominate any conversation with their ideas or stories from their classrooms?

  • I guess part of being an effective leader is being able to bring out the best in your staff? Perhaps the principal could use different ways of drawing ideas, rather than just conversations? My principal has used Survey Monkey to ask our staff about specific topics. That way everyone gets a say, and the principal can look at the data in front of him or her. (Sara)
  • So trying to determine which areas of the school each person can contribute and encouraging them to share ideas there, so they feel confident when sharing. Also, I feel like allowing people to choose when they are ready and comfortable to open up is important. (Heather)
  • My principal passes out stickies. When she wants everyone to contribute to a discussion, she poses the question and we all write a response on the sticky which gets posted on a discussion board. I now keep a drawer of stickies and use this technique with my own students all the time. I think grouping is also key to giving the quiet observers a chance to share. Breaking off into divisions or just smaller groups and having representatives present the group ideas is a great technique. (Kristina)

Heather asked. . . what do we do if not everyone is on board with sharing leadership? What if you have a principal who is fairly set in his/her ways? What if you have colleagues you aren’t really getting along with? How do we create a cohesive group in situations like these in order to make things better for the students?

  • Perhaps those who show leadership and positivity, could be rewarded with a half-day or full-day off to attend a PD session or to meet with colleagues to plan and discuss. That is not only a reward, but also a source of encouragement. I feel that giving others time to share ideas is the key to encouraging others to "buy in" to the educational change that is going on. When people feel validated and an important part of the change process, then they will naturally want to "buy in." Just as we use strategies as we strive to motivate our students, leaders need to use the same strategies as they strive to motivate other educators, parents, and community members. I think the key is for leaders to not give up at the onset of resistance. (Michelle)
  • Starting with a foundation that is grounded in respect and understanding for one another is crucial. Creating a sense of community among colleagues helps everyone feel like they belong, like they have a purpose. Doing team building activities/games at the beginning of staff meetings, co-creating a list of norms that everyone signs as is posted at the start of every meeting, encouraging people to participate in activities at breaks or after school that help one another get to know each other on a deeper level are all possible ways to start. When there is that sense of community people are more likely to come together, to rely on one another, and to care for each other. I feel like when those relationships start to develop we are more likely to work together to create positive changes for our students. (Lindsay)

Sara asked. . . how can we ensure that all stakeholders remain up to date with changes in our education system? Whose responsibility is it to ensure that all staff are up to date with the goals and initiatives being worked towards?

  • Just like in LE 3, we talked about small, precise steps for our students maybe this time it applies to our colleagues. Maybe we start small and if we can get some positive feeling about our change movement then we can go forward. And just like we had to find ways to motivate our students, the same applies here. I think too that we can be a powerful role model. If we are practising our new ideas in our classrooms and we are achieving success, then others will want to see and hear about it. But I don't know who is responsible for ensuring all stakeholders remain up to date with changes. That is a tricky question and a bit of a difficult situation. (Clare)
  • I agree with you that someone needs to make sure people do not get left behind with the changes. I think that the leader needs to do what they can do to ensure everyone has the information they need and help them as much as possible. At the same time, I don't see it as the leaders the responsibility to 'make' everyone follow. It is ultimately the principals job as we (teachers) are not suppose to judge each other on our practise. There really is only so much we can do. (Sherry)

Belinda asked. . . How does a leader(s) facilitate the varying aspects of stakeholders (teachers, parents, community, board) contributions to educational change when they may come from different perspectives and with different emotions? How does the leader(s) ensure the contributions of each fit together with the collective?

  • I know that at my school there is a great deal of consultation that is done with students, teachers, parents, school council, etc. whenever planning something new or even something we have done in the past. It has been done through informal meetings, emails, parent council sessions, newsletters, surveys, etc. Through these discussions we have been very successful in working collaboratively to plan events that respond to the needs of all parties involved. This consultation process ensures that the school is serving the needs of its community in an equitable fashion. (Lauren)

Jill asked. . . are there education systems that exist today where the measures of success are this trusting, holistic and produce the worldly learner that we are looking for? If so, is it possible to transfer that model to our society effectively? If yes, why don’t we do it?

  • I'm not sure if any exist but I can certainly understand the need for timelines and check-in dates as part of the accountability piece that is so important. Perhaps if we view the four year timeline simply as a check-in during the long-term process of change then that change in perspective might be helpful. (Lauren)

Lillian asked. . . As a reading leader, how do I build a more collaborate school culture, institute faculty study groups and cross-grade or department teams and provide time for collegial work? (Taken from the Action Options in Critical Issue: Leading and Managing Change and Improvement)

  • The goal of starting with divisions seems much more manageable. In terms of being part of the SIP committee, I think it has it's pros and cons. In order for any change to occur, I believe that the process starts with administration. Is your admin interested in feedback and discussions about these topics or is he/she taking the board initiatives and "shoving them down your throat" approach? Being a part of the change process definitely requires dedication and effort. (Sara)

Taye asked. . . How can a shared vision be developed and shared in a big school (over 50 staff and over 1100 students)? How do leaders keep everyone's needs in mind when creating this shared vision, and then how do leaders keep everyone focused on that vision?

  • I would have to say that at a bigger school, grade teams and divisions before very important. It's important to have a common prep time with your grade team at least once a week, and to use it effectively. It's equally important to meet with your division at least once per month before or after school or during a break to discuss and reflect. And during staff meetings and PD days, grade teams and divisions should be sitting together for part of the time, and also should be sitting with others from other grades and divisions for part of the meeting. It requires a lot of thought and a lot of organization on the part of the leader(s). (Michelle)
  • It is probably much easier to attempt a shared vision amongst smaller groups of the larger school. There is just no way that everyone will buy into the same things and have the same vision. Instead, it would make sense to have teachers teaching similar or the same grades to work together on a shared vision. In circumstances where staff has to agree upon something (such as in the School Improvement Plan), the principal ultimately has to make the final decision on what direction he or she will encourage the staff to face. (Heather)

Arla asked. . . What do you do when you have someone who is reluctant to change?

  • I think I would try to involve them in the planning process, so they feel like they’re involved and have a say. Also, I may try to provide a PD session that involved a class observation so they can see the ideas being put onto practice. This may help them see the results for themselves and help lessen their feelings of resistance. (Nikki)

Lindsay asked. . . How do we go about sustained professional development when funding is being decreased and then pulled in every direction?

  • I struggle to find PD that is engaging and meaningful to my day to day teaching. Perhaps during this current educational climate it is up to us to create small groups of interest within our schools or boards and seek out PD opportunities amongst ourselves. We could also approach administration about finding the funding if our small groups show interest in making a change. Last year I attended a PD Day that was offered in partnership with the Art Gallery in my city. Artists from the area taught us practical lessons using a variety of techniques and mediums. They also provided us with a wonderful resource text to inspire our future art lessons. I am wondering if some of the funding for such a project came from the art community and whether opportunities like this could be developed for the area of reading, perhaps in collaboration with the public library and/or business community. (Wendy)
  • I think one way could be if we form an “area group”. This means 2-4 schools in a close area could possible find a way to share PD sessions. Share the cost meaning that they could maybe train groups from each division so they could then go back to their individual schools and train their own staff during staff or division meetings. (Nikki)

NO ANSWERS YET, BUT SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. . .

Michelle asked. . . How does one handle those who may be reluctant to change? What form do the rewards take? and How does one encourage others to share their ideas and strategies if they're reluctant?

Nikki asked. . . As a leader in Reading, how can I effectively work across the divisions to build a sense of acceptance to new ideas, without diminishing what has been done by staff in the past?

Wendy asked. . . How do we motivate the teachers that are unwilling to change or incorporate new thinking into their practice? (What if they are so sure of themselves, their current abilities and practices that they are beyond reach?)

EDUCATIONAL CHANGE RESOURCES

The history of technology in education
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In case you didn't get enough Fullan. . .

Geoffrey Canada: Lessons on Leadership
Who Moved My Cheese
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