Where to start Transformative Educational Change?
Change and education have not always been synonymous. Rightly so, as we are in charge with looking after the future. Strong research and practice have to drive educational change. Our provincial government has done the research and sought out other schools around Canada and world to see it in practice. The government and the British Columbia teacher’s union have also worked together to create this change in the education system. They have also been preparing us for this change for over five years now.
Last year at this time, when our school faced the task of envisioning our future, our staff knew we had to change how we conducted our online schooling. Our staff knew (knowledge into action) that the research indicated that a blend of online and face to face instruction was needed to increase our success rates and completion rates. So, if were going to change our practice, why not make the change to the new curriculum now (November 2014).
Most change “experts” Simon Sinek, Start With Why, states that to initiate change one needs to begin with the “why.” Our staff clearly had the why, but not the expertise. Any change brings uncertainty. With uncertainty, comes tendencies to gravitate back to what we are currently doing, refute the educational research, claim that parents and students do not want the changes in the new curriculum and go back to doing the same old thing and wait until the next change comes.
So more than starting with the “why” is needed. The discovering the why is critical, however simultaneously one is working on; the cultural mindset (entrepreneurial mindset intrapreneurship), overall school culture, school’s system and structures (time, timetables), parent advocacy, student advocacy, school district support, teacher union support, and Ministry of Education support.
It is my belief that transformational change only occurs when everyone in the educational community is supporting each other while a multiple of changes are occurring simultaneously. As we chronicle the transformation of the Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning, one will notice a culture of caring (caring is our new currency) and support for colleagues, students, and parents.
That is where we started, cultural transformation. Setting the foundation for a cultural mindset where learning and practicing new educational strategies is the norm. Developing mindsets that applaud educational innovation and entrepreneurial practices within the school and where living in a constant state of beta is the norm. Where our students and teachers will be attempting new things, some of which will not work, and that is okay!
This work is often stressful, often exhausting and just as often, extremely exciting and rewarding for teachers, students, and parents.
Guiding principle: multiple changes need to occur simultaneously, to incorporate transformational change, with support from all stakeholders.
Reflections: (In the comment section ): How do you define your why to change?