Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Change Revolution

"We must learn how to unlearn and relearn in order to create schools that work for kids." - Eric Sheninger

Change is a word that is spoken about in education circles more and more each day. Herein lies the problem.  Talk and opinions get us nowhere.  The fact of the matter is that education has to change dramatically, but how this is initiated should no longer be a contentious topic for discussion or debate. We need to stop talking and spend more energy acting.  It is relatively agreed upon that the structure and function of the majority of schools across the globe no longer meet the needs of students in the digital age. There is a quiet revolution that is gaining steam as more and more educators and students push back against the very policies and mandates that have been forced upon them. You need to decide if it is worth it to conform or to carve out your own path to provide your students with the education and learning experiences they deserve. 

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Meaningful change has and always will begin at the individual level. This is also where it is sustained to the point that it becomes an embedded component of school or district culture. It does not rely on someone being in a leadership position in a traditional sense but more so on a desire to want to change professional practice. This is the point where all educators and students must realize that they have the capacity to lead change. School leaders need to remove barriers to the change process, eradicate the fear of failure, provide autonomy, and empower teachers to drive change at the classroom level. 

These successes can then be promoted within the school and district to serve as a catalyst for cultural transformation. The same holds true for both teachers and administrators when it comes to students, who happen to be our number one stakeholder group. Schools should be designed to meet the needs of our students, but if they are not given a seat at the table and allowed to be a focal point of change efforts that ultimately impact them, a golden opportunity is missed. Never underestimate the power that you have to make your school, district, and the entire education system better. Be the change that you wish to see in education, and others will follow. After all, real change comes from colleagues modeling expectations to others, not from those with titles.

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The whole premise of my book Uncommon Learning is it to provide relevancy, meaning, and authenticity in the teaching and learning process. It hinges upon our ability to provide an environment and activities that unleash our students’ passion for learning and allows them to create artifacts with the tools of their choice to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Additionally, it relies on a bold vision to grant students and educators the autonomy to take risks, learn from failure, and then adapt as needed. Meaningful change will happen only if we begin to give up control and establish a culture built on trust and respect. 

If we truly want to prepare the next generation of thinkers, doers, inventors, and change agents, we must give up control, trust students and educators, and work to develop a better system that will produce desired outcomes. Educators must acknowledge the real challenges that they are faced with each day and work to develop solutions to overcome them. Challenges should not be seen as insurmountable obstacles to change but rather opportunities to do things differently and better.  There also has to be a desire to embrace new thinking and strategies that not only address higher standards, but also prepare students for the real world as opposed to the school world. The end result will be the proliferation of uncommon learning strategies that in time will become common.

Will you be a part of the change revolution?

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