“We tend to devote years to studying what to change and little if any time to actually making change. In the meantime, kids continue to go through our schools without the benefit of the programs we know we should run.” George Wood
One of the questions that really bothers me is, “What will our schools look like in (place time frame here)?”. Although I understand the idea behind the question, and the visionary process behind it, we need to start asking this question:
“What should our schools look like right now?”
I remember coming back to our old elementary school in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, and thinking, “Look at all of the NEW stuff that the school has now.” This drove me insane. Although, I know that change is constant and in actuality it was really just because there was a new gym, too many times we really wait too long to implement change. How can we say something is “best practice” and not implement it as soon as possible?
Why do we wait? Fear? Extra work in implementation? Budget? I am sure that I could list several reasons and to be honest, many of which are valid.
What about the things that we can make happen now and we know that they are right? Do we still use the same excuses above whether they are valid or not? We are all about the kids right? We need to do everything that we can for the kids we have right now.
Now how do we do this when so many educators are at different levels in different areas? As a school administrator, I believe we have to use the strengths of our staff and build upon those. For me to force change on for the sake of change, does not work. I need to be able to connect teachers, share their strengths with one another, and help to build our school culture and capacity. I need to be able to clearly articulate our vision and help them understand what we are doing to obtain this reality. I do not want all of my teachers to have the exact same strengths, as that is not realistic or beneficial, but want to continue to build their leadership abilities. It is essential that if we are working in a climate of continuous change, school administration needs to create a system based upon the strengths of individuals, and build a system that utilizes these strengths to the benefit of the entire school. We need not only to have a purpose in our schools, but we need to GIVE purpose to those who are a part of our school. Find the strength of your colleagues and use them.
What about our parent community? What do we do when they are concerned about the direction of the school? My belief is that as the paid professionals, we are the ones that need to know what is best and work with them through change. That means having open and honest conversations about why we are doing what we do, sharing our vision for their children, and getting their thoughts. Make parents partners in the education process and be flexible on meeting the needs of their child, but continuously use avenues to inform them (parent-teacher meetings, blogs, newsletters, parent council meetings). Talk with them constantly and get them excited about the vision you have for their child's future. These conversations are not always easy, but you have to have them.