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5 Ways Leaders Can Promote Schoolwide Learning for Restructuring

 

Restructuring-22

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“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?

Reflections on Pedagogy, Technology and Change

“When you are engaged with others doing something meaningful, you can accomplish wonders.” (pp. 70). This quote is from a book by Michael Fullan called Stratosphere. From my perspective, this describes our journey at our school.

Our staff often celebrate and reflect what we have accomplished through collaboration. Our lead team (admin, special education facilitator/coach, & instructional/tech coach) also get together to reflect. The number one celebration theme for the past few years continues to be common language amongst staff, students and parents.  It started with the 7Habits language, then it gained momentum with the comprehension/thinking strategies and the gradual release pedagogy and now it’s carrying on with the DAILY 5 structure as well as purposeful technology integration including class blogs, student blogs and BYOD in  K-4 environment. Here is some of our baseline data for pedagogical change throughout the last few years:

  • All staff read The Leader in Me by Stephen R. Covey and were trained in the 7Habits
  • Some school council members read Leader in Me

  • All staff collaborated on developing mission/vision

  • School council educated in 7Habits & digital citizenship

  • All staff read Reading for Meaning by Debbie Miller and some read Strategies that Work by S. Harvey & A. Goudvis to extend their learning

  • All staff in-serviced in and instructing comprehension/thinking strategies from the books indicated above with common language

  • All staff teaching using gradual release of responsibility model to set up instruction for small groups and individuals

  • All staff assessing literacy using the Fountas & Pinnell system

  • All staff educated in and implement our 7Habits of Digital Citizenship

  • All staff have class blogs and some also have student blogs

  • Grade 1-4 classes implement BYOD

  • ¾ staff have been in-serviced in Daily 5 by “The Sisters”

  • All staff moving towards flexible classroom space/environment

  • School has been leveraging social media to:

    • develop professional growth

    • connect classrooms globally

    • engage parents and community

As I finished reading Stratosphere, I realized even more so what an incredible journey- pedagogically & technologically- we are traveling. Fullan states that “Pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge operating in concert will become a powerhouse of learning.” (pp.71).  I believe we are beginning to experience this due to our commitment to common language and framework:

1. Pedagogical change by implementing comprehension/thinking strategies within a gradual release of a responsibility model and flexible classroom environment model.

2. Technology integration by having the opportunity to facilitate our U21C project: Pedagogy First that provided time and support for teachers to collaborate.

3. Change knowledge by purposefully planning, innovating and building capacity: “…leadership and teaching is proactive in the sense of helping other people create a world they didn’t know they wanted.” (pp. 68).

It’s very exciting work!