Sunday, January 15, 2017

Change- Where Do You Start?

I recently blogged about staying on course even when things seem uncertain(read about that HERE). Even when politicians seem to penalize schools and districts for embracing change. Even when teachers are wanting students to be prepared for more than just a one day test, but the one day test is how you are measured. That post and conversations recently made me think more about change.

According to Merriam -Webster, one definition of change is to undergo transformation, transition, or substitution. Our district spent the better part of last school year on our Strategic Plan. During this process, we used the Visioning Document to guide our focus. The Visioning Document is a collaborative effort of 35 public school superintendents who recognized that we needed a different vision for public education in Texas. They knew we needed to change. They created a document describing this change.

And yet, today, almost 10 years after this document was published, very little has changed. So the question is WHY? Is it because the way we measure students, as determined by lawmakers, hasn't changed much? Or is it because we aren't quite sure where the "change" has to start? At what point do we make a change that will create this transformation that we know is best for education? Do we have to change the whole system or can we start small?

Around this time last year, I was able to hear Sir Ken Robinson at an event called EdShift. I first learned of his work through my principal at the time, Racheal Rife, who shared with us "Changing Education Paradigms" which received many head nods while our campus watched it.

Ken Robinson's Ted Talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity?", is the most watched TedTalk of all time. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

Hearing Robinson in person was very inspiring. One of my main takeaways from that day is that we might not be able to change the national education system/policy, or even our state education system/policy, but to our students, WE are the system and we have control over our classrooms and how we interact with our students. We can change what happens inside our classrooms. That was very powerful to hear and made "change" seem more manageable. Even writing this now, it lessens my stress of trying to change ALL of education and helps me focus just on what is in front of me... teachers & students in my district. That is manageable. An informative article with an excerpt from his book, Creative Schools reminded me of this day. In this article Robinson says, "But revolutions don’t wait for legislation. They emerge from what people do at the ground level."

So for this week, I will focus on and celebrate the innovation that is happening in our classrooms, and build upon that. I will focus on and celebrate the teachers who are taking risks to learn new skills and implementing those in their classrooms with and for their students, and build upon that. I will focus on leading a revolution of change within our district and finding those who are ready to join in. Our students deserve this effort and focus.

And I will be comfortable in losing sight of one shore as I focus on the horizon, knowing that change is scary, uncomfortable and oftentimes comes with unchartered territory. But I'm pushing off...

How are you changing things that are within your control? Do you have some ideas for encouraging and supporting change within a district or campus? I would love to hear ideas from those who are at the "ground level" and not in "committee rooms."

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