Messy Business: Real ‘Change’

It is a human condition to resist “change”.  It is also a natural tendency to debunk solutions to obstacles that go against common practice and cultural mores.  It is even more common, in my experience anyway, to be able to imagine or create solutions and scenarios outside the proverbial box we tend to use as a fortress against change.  ”Change” meaning practices and strategies with which we are unfamiliar, that take one outside a known comfort zone, and cause internal strife.

For these reasons, at One-to-One Institute, we strive to support organizations with the development of leaders who can steer the ship through the rough waters of change that authentic school transformation requires.  Ordinarily, our work focus for organizations is in the realm of guiding effective 1:1 implementations.  Inherent is the need for systemic change/shift in all facets of education.  Operations, communications, pedagogy, leadership, parent/caregiver and all stakeholders must be part and parcel of the process.

It can be overwhelming to grasp the impact and needed strategies for guiding people and systems through the ability to make significant changes to how business gets done.  The important business of creating personalized, student-centered education ecosystems is the core of this work. Adults are very accustomed to how we interact in the student/teacher space.  Shifting gears to where students are self-directed within a personalized model of learning is not easy to do.  Letting go of the ever present control we’ve had in schools is scary. One step at a time and knowing this is a process can help guide this work.

We’ve helped organizations with this effort on school, district, and state levels.  The more layers and people involved – the more complex this work.  We’ve learned that the first and foremost criteria in jumpstarting the process is somehow ensuring that everyone involved can commit to letting go of what is ‘known’ and comfortable in order to open the mind and spirit to the possibilities only our imaginations can generate.  Some examples follow.

Scheduled episodic PD-random content Educators drive ‘what I need to learn now’, find opportunities and district supports efforts District embeds consistent PD models within work week; teacher/administrator driven content
Carnegie unit Seat-time waivers Competency based systems for student achievement/matriculation
Learning within brick and mortar classrooms Flipped, blended learning models Learning activities anytime, anywhere, any place and any pace
Multiple imperatives that direct efforts Integration of all imperatives into meaningful efforts Prioritize one or two focal efforts; short and long term plan for incorporating others
Lock step schedules for courses/learning Blended learning models Blended and online learning models
End of course/semester/summative testing Ongoing feedback systems re: progress for students/teachers Student-teacher collaboration/communication system for examining progress/providing feedback
Autonomous teaching/learning Teacher/student learning communities of practice embedded daily; discussing work, progress, needs, adjusted plans Dedicated time/space for educator professional learning communities for reflection, debriefing, risk taking, adjusting.

Leadership here is key!  Tearing down the walls we consciously and unconsciously have in place to protect us is the key to being able to form a collaborative alliance seeking alternatives that allow for movement into considering currently unknown possibilities for transforming teaching and learning.

Leslie Wilson, CEO   –   One-to-One Institute   –   Co-Author, Project RED

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