My profile byline on many online sites says,
A husband, a parent…
An educator, a student…
A thinker, a dreamer…
An agent of change.
I think it says a lot about me, who I am, and who I want to be. But I’ve been thinking about change a lot recently, and I’ve had to deal with a lot of changes recently at my school (we had to move our whole school on short notice at the end of last year/start of this year) and that has me thinking some more again… Change is hard… hard to make and hard to meaningfully sustain.
Literally as I was writing this my Tweetdeck (twitter application) chimed to announce a tweet addressed to me from Phillipa Cleaves @pipcleaves:
A new blog post: The Imperative to walk the Walk http://bit.ly/f5e5Yh Inspired by @deangroom @benpaddlejones and @datruss
The post, The Imperative to Walk the Walk, states “…I therefore put to everyone who is reading this to change. Change how you talk, don’t show those movies any more, work on professional learning opportunities like Ben Jones has suggested, and don’t do one off training. Give participants at your professional learning sessions the feeling of being in a student centred classroom…”
It feels wonderful to inspire change, but the irony is that this message comes to me as I write this, questioning whether or not I’m actually walking the walk? Am I the change agent I want to be? (Pretend to be?)
I wanted to implement many things this year that I have yet to begin. I’m at a school where we spent the first 4 days that should be dedicated to professional development actually unpacking a library and unpacking a school. We implemented a 1-1 program for our seniors and started them on blogs that will also, through pages, become their online portfolio, but the blogs have been blocked for over a month now… not by China but by the blogging platform that has been swamped with spam from China.
I’m at a school where most of my students come from countries where content and memorization is king, and finding different materials or pulling students out for ESL support is often seen as a disservice to the child by many in my parent population, (‘They are missing out on the ‘real’ content’). Textbooks are vital, and I hear “My kid isn’t getting enough homework,” while as a parent I see too much homework coming home.
There is a mismatch between the BC Canada Math curriculum and its’ heavy emphasis on language based problems, the simplicity of the problems that are asked to be explained and the diverse level of Math and language skills of students coming from different countries. My next pro-d session is going to address this. We will watch Dan Myer’s Math class needs a makeover and discuss questioning textbook questions across the curriculum.
My technology focused pro-d has been limited to introducing delicious (soon to be shut down?) as a means to share resources, (oh and my main substitute diigo bookmarking is blocked in China). My other pro-d has been focused on: effective use of Teaching Assistants (another change at our school that had ESL classes and has transitioned to in-class and pull-out TA support); differentiation to deal with large numbers of ESL students in a classroom; and, teaming to get teachers to share their resources and to use their common prep time effectively to enhance learning.
Everywhere I have turned, I’ve been coping with change… but not the changes that I want… the changes I’ve had to deal with. It makes me wonder, how much change is too much? Systems take time to adapt to change. Compounded with this is the idea behind Dean Shareski’s comment quote on George Couros’ post:
“Teachers do not resist making changes; they resist people who try to make them change. The best change comes as a result of individuals realizing they need to change. If we believe that teachers are the right people in the role, we need to help them realize this on their own and not because they feel forced. True change is internal.”
I’ve asked a lot of my teachers in the first term. Challenges we’ve faced with our new building have compounded the stress. Start up has been tough, and I’m so proud of how well my teachers have coped, and how hard they have worked to make the school and their classrooms great. I was blown away with the learning that was happening when I did my recent ‘No Office Day‘.
And yet I sit here and question myself, and question how we can implement system-wide change in education? Because David Jakes is right, “Endless conversation about change is the barrier. Actually committing to doing something and then acting is what is required.”
Yeah, we’ve had a lot to deal with at our school this year, but so have many other schools across the globe. Schools always have a lot on the go, they always have unique challenges that make them places that are already dealing with a lot of change. There are always excuses masked as reasons to not change ‘something’ now because, ‘it’s just bad timing‘ or ‘we’re too busy‘ or ‘we have so much on the go already‘.
I’ve done a lot to cope with change, have I done enough to be an agent of meaningful change?