Sunday, March 18, 2018

Teachers are the Driving Force of Change

During virtually every keynote, presentation, or workshop that I give, the topic of change is very much a part of it.  Leading the effort to uproot the status quo and prepare kids for anything as opposed to something is easier said than done.  As Tom Murray and I state in Learning Transformed, "To prepare students for their world of work tomorrow, we must transform their learning today." Great progress is being made in classrooms and schools across the world.  As technology has continued to evolve at an exponential rate we have seen passionate educators begin to embrace and implement innovative strategies to better meet the needs of learners today. 

As a result, isolated pockets of excellence have emerged in virtually every school.  Don't get me wrong, this is great.  I am all for progress and a move from business as usual to unusual in pursuit of learning that will prepare kids with the critical competencies to excel in a disruptive world.  However, we cannot be satisfied with just a few pockets as every student deserves an amazing learning experience.   Change at scale is a collective effort where we must leverage the unique assets embedded in every position and at all levels.  As the saying goes, there is no "I" in team.

Now granted, building and district leaders play a huge role in supporting change and ensuring success.  Their role is to build on these successes while removing obstacles, establishing a shared vision, developing parameters for accountability around growth, evaluating if efficacy has been achieved, and reflecting on the entire process.  Reflection could very well be the most important aspect of the change process as there will either be validation or the identification of needed elements to ensure success.  Since there is always room for improvement in the education profession these leaders need to take action on the broader issues to improve the culture of learning at scale. 

The most important group, however, rarely gets the credit they rightfully deserve.  The most impactful change doesn't come from people with a title, power, or authoritative position in education. It happens at the ground level with our teachers as it is they who have to implement ideas for the direct betterment of students.  Think about this for a second.  If it weren't for our teachers embracing broader ideas and putting them into practice would any change in schools actually occur?  The simple answer is no.  



When I think back to all of the success that we had at my school it wasn't because of me or the fact that I was the principal.  Sure, I played my part as described previously in this post, but my role in the bigger picture was a small one.  It was because my teachers believed we could be better for our learners and as a result, they embraced innovative ideas.  This brings me to a critical point.  We must celebrate the invaluable leadership of our teachers while also working tirelessly to create the conditions where they are empowered to be the change that is needed.

Never say you are "just a teacher." Let your actions, not a role, define you. The change our schools need at scale can only be ushered in by our teachers. If you are in a typical administrative position to make that happen then become a beacon of support, not a roadblock to progress.  We need bold administrators to enlighten others who are unwilling or scared to embrace innovative ideas that go against the status quo. Only by working together can both groups transform learning for all kids now and well into the future. 

6 comments:

  1. There's so much capacity already present on our campuses...unleashing and guiding it is the key! You sum it up so well when you said, "scared to embrace innovative ideas that go against the status quo." The far reaching impact of fear disempowerment the people so valuable to making a positive impact on our campuses!

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  2. Thank you! Acknowledging the power of our teachers as the one's who have direct impact on our students, they are never "just a teacher".

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  3. An educator is definitely not “just a teacher.” A truly dedicated professional educator in the 21st Century is an ardent and genuine advocate, with high expectations for their students, who genuinely cares, inspires and guides them as unique individuals, to develop their creativity and confidence and to believe in themselves. Teaching is doing as much as you can, and in as many ways as you can, until the light goes on in your student’s mind, and then taking the time to reflect and do more. This passionate sincere educator understands the subject content, collaborates, never settles, is creative, always is self-assessing and strives to know their students and their culture so they can succeed. They are continuous learners who lead and invoke positive change. They include technology, as a positive impact on learning to differentiate instruction, calm the insatiable thirst of instant knowledge, while fulfilling the desire for accountability. It is a powerful tool and will continue to evolve at the pace of progress.

    Every teacher is shaped by their experiences defining their desire to teach; at times in ways they never would expect. I feel so strongly that a teacher can change the life of a child in an instant, knowingly or not and have been blessed to watch it happen. The opportunities that we witness, as a student grows and gains confidence and self-esteem in the safe walls of our learning space, is why we continue to teach and be a passionate advocate for our students. Each student is unique in his or her own way and as an educator; it is my job to know how to meet their needs. As an architect has to listen to their customers,and a doctor has to listen to their patients, a teacher has to listen and be aware of their student’s ever-changing needs. Time is a valuable commodity and collaboration is important to increase our learning not impede the opportunity.

    Since knowledge is power. Everyone carries leadership capabilities to influence people in positive ways. A good and caring administrator believes in and is an advocate of their staff, to be leaders, who opens their eyes to new advancements in learning, while having faith and insight to take a chance. Much is done behind the scenes but is always solution-oriented. Since I first started teaching I believed that, if students want to learn, a teacher can find a way to make the light shine for each and every student. This also works for leadership. Education, in its best form, is a cyclical process, keeping what works and moving beyond the things that don’t. It has challenged me not to take my teaching for granted, and opened my eyes to other teacher’s needs, concerns, and successes, as well as my students to embrace their future as successful adults who will, in turn, impact society in positive ways.

    It only takes a passionate spark to guide a student and open their minds to learning and sharing what they have learned. Leadership is making happen what you believe in. Everyone carries leadership capabilities to influence people in positive ways. Teacher leaders are passionate professionals who have a positive influence on the entire district as well as the classroom in which they teach. They strive to influence people in positive ways, fulfilling needs and guiding positive change to take hold and be infectious. Every teacher can and must be a leader. Every administrator must be a good listener who knows, encourages and guides their staff to discover their full potential. This, in turn, will allow their teachers to become leaders, and inspire their students to become life-long learner and leaders who apply what they have learned to benefit others. Educators are truly the sculptors of futures. Change is continuous, and it’s significant. My students spoke how our high school is a family who helps each other. I am thankful to have learned never to settle for status-quo, always be open to change and that it is our actions, not our role, that defines us. Influence people in positive ways, while fulling a need and great things will result.

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  4. All teacher leaders should continue to inspire, be creative, blog, use technology within your lessons, share and implement your ideas. Positive change is continuous and infectious. “Let your actions, not a role, define you” (Sheninger, 2018). It is worth the extra effort.

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  5. Beautifully said. Our students’ needs change—-literally every day. So to say our work as leaders is ever “done” is concerning.

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  6. Thank you for acknowledging the power of our teachers as they help to have direct impact on our students.Every teacher is a leader who always push there students to achieve the goal in life .https://typicalstudent.org is also a nice platform for students as well as teachers.

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