You don’t have to be an educator these days to be involved in a discussion about educational reform. Everyone has an opinion on what that reform should look like and why it should happen, but most agree that some type of serious reform is necessary. Fifteen years ago, who would have imagined that people such as George Lucas, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon and others would be so influential in education policy and politics? It is becoming clear that everyone has a stake in the future of education and everyone has a voice.
It is interesting that a building leader is placed in the position of trying to figure out how to implement all of the suggestions that everyone else tends to make. It is up to the building leader to gather feedback, do the research, talk to the stakeholders and then determine what is most important and design a successful implementation plan.
Okay, so you’ve got it all figured out. You know what needs to be done. How do you do it? The answer can be quite simple. You do it together!
Education is such an isolated profession. Teachers have worked alone in their classrooms. Principals have worked alone in their buildings. Reform can not be accomplished in isolation. The first step to successful reform is to get people working together. Teachers have to know that they can trust the building principal and that failure is a natural part of change. It doesn’t really matter what the initiative is that you are trying to move forward, it will move forward faster if everyone is on the same page. Take time to build that trust and those relationships. Ultimately, our business is about developing people; the young ones and the not so young ones.
Once you have enough staff members that trust you:
1. Decide on a common goal. What do you want your school to look like in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? How are you going to get there?
2. Make a plan. Your plan has to include common expectations, common training and common vocabulary.
3. Next, create a sense of urgency. Why is this goal important right now?
4. Finally, bring on the fun! Change is hard. Acknowledge that it is hard and plan intentional fun!
Amazing things are possible when groups of people work together for a common purpose. Reform can happen. But it will only happen successfully when the dancers on the dance floor want it to happen and are willing to work hard to make it happen.