5 Ways Leaders Can Promote Schoolwide Learning for Restructuring
Posted by Maureen Schlemko
“There is so much to learn…we need to be in a continuous learning mode.” Fullan, 2013
Before taking a look at these the suggestions below, we must always be reminded about relationships, relationships, relationships! These 5 ways are built on a foundation of trust. Relationships must continuously be nurtured and strengthened. Leaders and teachers must trust themselves in order to trust others. As Costa & Garmston (2002) state: “Self-trust is prerequisite to developing trusting relationships with others.”. One way this can be developed is posted here and to help decide what balance leaders may need is posted here.
After considering the relationship piece, these 5 ways can help bring about innovation and learning that can translate in improved student learning.
1.Provide many opportunities to learn, explore and experience new knowledge and skills. Time to learn and experiment with colleagues can help change behaviours. Leaders need to plan to spend money for resources and to get creative with scheduling for on-going, embedded collaboration. Learning in community can change attitudes and beliefs that, ultimately, change behaviour and practices. Continued support for teachers along the way such as coaching is essential.
2. Loose-tight leadership: Change is messy. Often we can end up with pockets of innovative teaching and the entire staff is at different places in the journey. To develop consistency in all classrooms, leaders can decide on areas that they are willing to be “loose” on and areas that they need to be “tight”on (Dufour, 1998). For example, the school’s collectively agreed upon mission/vision must be a “tight” area. Any decision is based on the question: Does it align with our mission/vision/values & beliefs? The areas that leaders can consider to be “loose” with are areas of discovery and exploration of new pedagogy/resources/tools. Other examples might be “tight” with the guidelines of digital citizenship & “loose” on finding innovative ways to teach it. Once exploration has been done by the early adopters, then a collective decision can be made as a staff on some common practices/best pedagogy for the school. This can create effective learning environments for students year after year with common language and effective pedagogy.
3. Honor where people are at, provide generous support and remove barriers. In this article by Schlechty (1993), he describes five roles people play in the change process and how they can be supported. He also defines the difference between school improvement and restructuring which is significant for where educational change is at currently and continuing to go.
4. Develop teacher capacity to create teacher leaders by “making learning personal” (Bray, 2012) not just for students but for teachers too. Change is personal! Leaders can personalize learning by providing training and resources for self-improvement that is meaningful (see first paragraph above) and, by providing high-quality professional development at every staff meeting–directly and indirectly. Directly meaning on-going PD during a portion of your staff meeting day. Indirectly meaning embedding the learning in everyday things. For example, if the goal is to help staff learn about a highly effective strategy or tool, then use it in a meaningful way during your meeting. Something as simple as putting the staff meeting agenda in Google Docs and staff using mobile devices to see the agenda to follow the links will go a long way in staff learning.
5. On-going reflective practice that includes individual and school wide reflection. To keep reflection at the forefront, provide opportunity for personal reflection time during staff development time, develop reflection mechanisms for professional learning communities and, implement activities during professional development days to reflect as a whole staff. Promoting reflection at all stages of organizational change will assist in riding through the implementation dip. A great resource for individual and school wide reflective practice is here.
In what other ways can leaders lead successful restructuring?
About Maureen SchlemkoPrincipal, literacy specialist, instructional leader and coach passionate about connected leading & learning and inspiring others!
Posted on May 4, 2014, in Change, Developing and Facilitating Leadership, Embodying Visionary Leadership, Fostering Effective Relationships, Leadership, Leading a Learning Community, Providing Instructional Leadership and tagged change, leadership, Leading a Learning Community, Providing Instructional Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.