Tips for Implementing School-Wide Change
Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this tip from Teaching Practices from America's Best Urban Schools: A Guide for School and Classroom Leaders by Joseph F. Johnson, Lynne G. Perez and Cynthia L. Uline. The book gives teachers and school administrators detailed examples of the practices of successful urban schools. In this article, the authors identify five common challenges that arise when leaders are attempting to engage in a pedagogical change, and provides a possible solution for each challenge.
Generating consistent school-wide change in teaching takes substantial time and effort, courage and risk. But perhaps the most important lesson to be learned from our studies of high-performing urban schools is that success is attainable. These are five common challenges faced by schools attempting to change their practices and sample solutions that National Excellence in Urban Education Award-winning schools used to overcome these challenges and implement high-quality, high-yield teaching practices.
Challenge: People are not likely to change their practice if they don't believe the change will generate worthwhile learning results for their students.
Solution: Give teachers extensive opportunites to observe the desired change in similar classrooms/districts, so that they might believe in the power of the desired change.
Challenge: People are not likely to change their practice if they believe they already implement the requested change.
Solution: Allow and encourage teachers to engage in substantial, ongoing dialgue about what the practice should "look like" in various types of classrooms in different situations.
Challenge: People are not likely to change their practice if they perceive that nobody cares or notices if they endeavor to change.
Solution: Allow teachers to visit each other's classrooms as frequently as you do. Discuss (and celebrate!) the improvement of instructional practices on a regular basis at school-wide, grade-level or department-wide meetings.
Challenge: People are not likely to change their practice if they perceive they are being asked to change multiple things simultaneously.
Solution: Focus on a very small number of pedagogical improvements. Use all of your professional development opportunities to make the same few changes, and emphasize excellence in a few areas at a time.
Challenge: People are not likely to change their practice if they perceive that they are likely to fail when they try.
Solution: Create a learning environment where perfection is not expected, and encourage teachers to try new approaches or practices. Use failures are learning opportunties for continued growth.
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