Most people would agree that change is hard. Some teachers and school administrators know that’s especially true when talking about a school district that wants to make instructional or organizational change. But in recent years the K-12 education environment has changed so drastically (and will continue to change), one would think there has to be a way to better cope with the apparent shock of organizational change and help schools embrace the process.
For starters, maybe we need to stop saying how ‘hard’ it is to change. According to a recent article in Edutopia by Grant Litchman, a change facilitator and advisor for schools, change is NOT hard at all, it’s simply uncomfortable. Once schools can get comfortable with being uncomfortable, change can really happen. Here’s are some of strategies he shares on facilitating change in schools.
Litchman states most schools operate in silos with minimal communication between the categories. Connecting these categories can allow for more creativity and thus support innovative change. You can help make these connections by supporting professional learning networks (whether those are within or outside your school), implementing teacher professional growth through classroom observation, and allowing school networks to thrive beyond “traditional boundaries of schools, regions, and countries.”
Take More Risks
It’s hard to make changes without taking some risks. That’s why it’s important to have discussions about what risk means for the school, and how to embed a comfortable risk taking mindset. Litchman specifically mentions creating a risk portfolio for a tangible guideline on how much risk the school and it’s staff can handle.
“A ‘risk portfolio’ consists of pilots that span a range on the risk-reward matrix. Schools generally find that they can tolerate higher risk levels than they thought (in terms of a changing pedagogy or program) when stakeholders are part of designing and testing new ideas.”
One of the most uncomfortable steps is sifting through school resources and deciding where things can be reallocated to attain new goals. Basic school resources consist of time, space, people, and money, all of which most schools don’t have in vast quantities. After defining your key goals and resources, visually map out where these resource will specifically support those goals, and where they don’t.
Lindman goes into even more detail with great advice on facilitating change in his Edutopia blog. Check it out here: