With all the discussions swirling around personalized learning, and school reform, I have been thinking a lot about change, and how we do it right.
I found a recent “Management Tip of the Day” from the Harvard Business Review on 3 Ways to Quietly Promote Change — very reassuring and instructive as we look at our work around teaching and learning in West Vancouver:
- Model the change. Demonstrate the way you want things to change through your own language and behaviour. Often, seeing a leader do something first gives people the courage to try it themselves.
- Turn negatives into positives. Find ways to reframe people’s resistance as opportunities for change. This requires that you listen carefully, understand the underlying reasons for the opposition, and address them directly.
- Find allies. Chances are someone else in the organization wants the change as badly as you do. Find that person and pool your resources and ideas.
This fall, I have been amazed and impressed with the energy in our district around personalized learning and how teachers are using technology to support it in their classrooms. While it has taken many forms, and actually very few use the term “personalized learning” and opt instead for differentiated instruction, grouping for learning, inquiry-based learning, among a host of other terms, we have profound examples of teachers feeling they have “permission” to experiment and be creative, and students owning their learning in new ways.
Of course, this is not a race.
Earlier this week, we spent some time with all our principals and vice-principals looking at our successes and challenges during the first month, as well as what we want to do during the next 90 days, with personalized learning and using technology.
One theme constantly emerged: the need to continue to focus on learning goals and then, if appropriate, see how technology can support them. We also discussed the opportunities and challenges of students publishing for a public audience, and how we work with students and parents as we do this in an authentic and secure way.
The discussions we are having may be about schedules, content or technology, but almost all of them come back to being about change – schooling looking different for students than it did for their parents; schooling looking different for staff than it did when they were students.
Our commitment for the next 90 days is around providing more support to teachers around pedagogy and technology, to build greater capacity at each school, and to continue to invite participation from students, staff and parents on this journey. We all agree that education is changing, and there are some amazing examples in our district of what is possible, right now.
There is not one right answer, and to finish this where I started, it is not a race.
For more on personalized learning, here is an earlier post referencing a presentation I first shared last June on: Teaching, Learning, Technology and Personalization