This blog post is meant for educators–the teachers and staff in a school who genuinely care about keeping their school on a continuum of progress. Let’s face it: Not everyone in a school community, teachers included, are fully invested in change and improvement. Many teachers want the status quo; they want to chug along with their duties and with their students in the same way they have done so for years, while they eschew the idea of taking on a different approach or adopting a new classroom method. That would mean actually working, something they decided sometime ago to avoid if at all possible.
But schools are living and breathing organisms, and effective teaching and learning remains subject to new research and shifting societal values and habits. Parents typically have high expectations for their children’s growth and development; therefore, schools have to be dynamic places whereby change, albeit carefully planned change, is the norm. Which leads me to my main point. Change is never successful in a school if it results from a massive bombardment of out-of-the-box ideas, however valid those ideas might be.
Lasting change and improvement only takes place gradually, with increments or even baby steps of progress over time. The thirty bullet points of overhauling a school would be best scrapped for those few, achievable steps that teachers would find reasonable, non-threatening, and achievable. The small step today, for example, in the area of differentiating instruction, will more likely lead to consistent success at meeting student needs, than a gargantuan directive from an administrator, however sound and widely accepted the initiative might be.
I said school organizations are like human organisms, and that’s true, but the better association would be to see the successful school as the turtle, taking ginger, baby steps toward gradual advancement across the terrain of progress.