Sunday, May 28, 2023

5 Steps to Involve Students in Transformation Efforts

In my early days as an administrator, I thought that a positive school culture was one where strict rules were created and consistently enforced to keep students focused on learning. I believed that the more control I could exert over the environment, the better the results. There was not much flexibility in terms of the structure of the day and what students were “allowed” to do. The end result was either compliance or outright defiance. Those who were compliant were celebrated, while those who were defiant were disciplined accordingly.

I can look back on this early time in my administrative career and see how naïve I was. I now realize that the most significant piece to the change and transformation process is our students. This most important stakeholder group is often left out of the conversation.

So what are the secrets to transforming school culture? Below are some ideas.

  1. Make it a student-centered process. The first step is to involve students in the process of creating a positive school culture. This means giving them a voice and a platform to share their ideas. It also means listening to their concerns and taking their feedback seriously.
  2. Give up control. This can be a difficult one for many administrators, but it is essential if we want to create a truly student-centered culture. We need to be willing to let go of some of our control and empower students to make decisions about their own learning.
  3. Respect their ideas. When students share their ideas, we need to take them seriously. We need to listen to their concerns and be open to new ways of doing things. We also need to be respectful of their opinions, even if we don't agree with them.
  4. Implement their ideas. Once we have listened to students and taken their feedback into account, we need to be willing to implement their ideas. This means making changes to our policies, procedures, and practices. It also means giving students the resources they need to make their ideas a reality.
  5. Get out of the way. Once we have implemented students' ideas, we need to get out of the way and let them take ownership of their learning. This means giving them the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. It also means providing them with the support they need to succeed.

Transforming school culture is not easy, but it is possible. By following these steps, we can create a learning environment where students feel empowered and engaged. To gain deeper insight and strategies on how to make this a reality be sure to check out Digital Leadership and Disruptive Thinking

Monday, May 22, 2023

#EDvice: Entry Points for Change

As we all know, navigating change is often a tricky process.  It requires a clear vision, a sound plan for implementation, and patience. Even with all these elements and many others in place, it is rarely a smooth journey.  One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is zeroing in on compelling reasons to change that will lead to better outcomes.  I refer to these as entry points, which can serve as a catalyst for any initiative or strategic plan.  One of the most powerful can be quality research, especially peer-reviewed studies.  I shared the following on social media recently:

Entry points for change are crucial. When trying to get the ball moving, leverage quality research. It can be used to identify areas for improvement to create new and innovative learning methods that better meet the needs of ALL learners. 

In this piece of #EDvice I discuss to vital role research plays in both initiating and sustaining the change process.  

Consider using Google Scholar, which is a great, FREE resource that anyone can use to search for peer-reviewed research on any topic.  Artificial Intelligence can also be used.  I prefer Google Bard over ChatGBT. Recently I asked the following question, "What peer-reviewed research studies support 1:1 laptops in schools?".  Below you can see the response.

There are a number of peer-reviewed research studies that support the use of 1:1 laptops in schools. These studies have found that laptops can improve student achievement, engagement, and motivation. For example, a study by the Pew Research Center found that students who used laptops in the classroom were more likely to say that they were engaged in their schoolwork and that they felt like they were learning more. Additionally, a study by the National Center for Education Statistics found that students who used laptops in the classroom were more likely to say that they enjoyed school and that they were motivated to learn.

Here are some specific examples of the benefits of 1:1 laptops in schools:

  • Laptops can help students to learn more effectively. For example, students can use laptops to access online resources, collaborate with classmates, and create multimedia projects.
  • Laptops can help students to be more engaged in their learning. For example, students can use laptops to take notes, participate in discussions, and complete assignments.
  • Laptops can help students to be more motivated to learn. For example, students can use laptops to explore their interests, learn at their own pace, and get immediate feedback on their work.
  • Of course, there are also some challenges associated with using laptops in schools. For example, laptops can be a distraction, and they can be expensive to purchase and maintain. However, the benefits of using laptops in schools generally outweigh the challenges.

Overall, the research suggests that 1:1 laptops can be a valuable tool for improving student achievement, engagement, and motivation. If you are considering implementing a 1:1 laptop program in your school, it is important to carefully consider the benefits and challenges involved.

I then asked Bard to cite specific studies.  Here is what was provided

  • Bebell, M., & Kay, A. (2010). Laptops and student achievement: Evidence from a large-scale, urban school district. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(4), 357-377.
  • Cheung, A. C. K., & Slavin, R. E. (2013). Effects of one-to-one computing and teacher professional development on student achievement in high school mathematics. American Educational Research Journal, 50(3), 568-596.
  • DeWitt, S. L., & Watson, J. (2013). A review of the research on laptop computers in K-12 education. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 45(4), 347-369.
  • Suhr, J. L., Johnson, C. C., & Lajoie, S. P. (2010). One-to-one computing: A review of the literature. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(4), 307-329.
  • Watson, J., & DeWitt, S. L. (2010). Laptops and student achievement: A research synthesis. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(4), 329-356.
Research can be a fantastic entry point, but it surely isn't the only one.  Other great options include evidence (qualitative and quantitative) as well as effective professional learning.  For more insight, check out this post



Sunday, May 14, 2023

Tackling Roadblocks to Change

Change is hard because it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone and into the unknown. It means letting go of the familiar and embracing something new. This can be a scary and uncertain process, which is why many people resist change.

There are many reasons why people resist change. Some people are afraid of the unknown. They may worry about what will happen if they change, and they may not be confident in their ability to adapt to new situations. Others may be resistant to change because it requires them to give up something they are comfortable with. For example, a person who is used to working from home may be resistant to the idea of going back to the office.

Change can also be difficult because it requires us to learn new things. This can be a challenge, especially if we are not used to change. Learning new things takes time and effort, and it can be frustrating when we don't see results immediately. However, in a disruptive world, it is a must. 

There are many reasons why change in education is so hard. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Lack of resources. Schools often lack the resources they need to implement new changes, such as funding, training, and time.
  • Resistance to change. Teachers, administrators, and parents may be resistant to change for a variety of reasons, such as fear of the unknown, lack of trust in new approaches, or concerns about the impact of change on students.
  • Bureaucracy. The education system is often slow to change due to its complex bureaucracy. This can make it difficult to implement new initiatives and get them off the ground.
  • Political pressure. Schools are often under political pressure to maintain the status quo. This can make it difficult to implement changes that are seen as being too radical or controversial.
  • The need for evidence. Schools often need to see evidence that a new approach is effective before they are willing to adopt it. This can be a challenge, as it can take time to collect and analyze data on the effectiveness of new programs.

Despite these challenges, there are many examples of successful educational change, which I have highlighted in Digital Leadership. These changes often involve a combination of factors, such as strong leadership, a clear vision, and the support of key stakeholders. By understanding the reasons why change is so hard, we can better support efforts to improve our schools.

Here are some additional tips for making change in education more successful:

  • Start small. Don't try to change everything at once. Start with small, achievable goals that can be implemented quickly and easily.
  • Get embracement from stakeholders. Make sure that teachers, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders are on board with the change before you implement it.
  • Provide training and support. Teachers and administrators need training on how to implement new changes effectively. They also need support from their colleagues and administrators as they go through the process of change.
  • Measure the impact of change. Collect data on the impact of the change to make sure that it is having the desired effect. This data can be used to make further improvements to the change.
  • Be patient. Change takes time. Don't expect to see results overnight. Be patient and persistent, and eventually, you will see the benefits of change.

Despite the challenges, change can be a positive thing. It can help us to grow and learn, and it can lead to new opportunities. If we can learn to embrace change, we can open ourselves up to a world of possibilities.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

#EDvice: Less is More

To say that there is a great deal of pressure on educators today is a gross understatement.  It is shared with me during conversations that they feel it is difficult to catch their breath and keep up with all that is expected of them. While this has led to an increase in stress and anxiety, it is always made clear to me that they want to grow and improve. I shared the following piece of advice recently on social media:
Educators are overwhelmed and an endless array of initiatives, ideas, and strategies will do more harm than good. Meaningful change to improve learner outcomes can/will still happen with a moderated approach. Less is MORE.
As I shared in Disruptive Thinking, consistency and continuity far outweigh the sheer number of different ways to get better. The most essential element in learning is the teacher in the classroom. It is here where leaders can provide support through clarity, examples, feedback, and professional learning that focuses on concepts that can truly move the needle when implemented at scale. In this piece of #EDvice I discuss how the Rigor Relevance Framework can be used to lessen the number of balls in the air while zeroing in on just two critical aspects of learning. 

It is important to keep in mind that this framework is geared to help educators evaluate where their current practice resides and then make needed shifts to improve. This could come in the form of questioning techniques, assessment development, prioritizing standards, and creating performance tasks or projects.  

My main point here is twofold. You don’t need to throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to improving practice and learning outcomes.  Most importantly, success relies on doing a few things really well where there is a natural alignment to what goes on in classrooms daily.