I often wonder why more teachers don’t try to create these types of opportunities or environments or collaborations in their work. After all, if it is good for students and learning, then it’s kind of a slam-dunk — isn’t it? But, then I consider the following possibility, kind of an equation of change:
If perceived benefit is = or > perceived risk (organizational approval) + perceived risk (accountability measures) + perceived risk (loss of professional control) then the conditions for change exist.
Even when these conditions exist, there still needs to be professional development, planning, and mentoring built in to the process.
As a leader, I have an opportunity to create a context for teachers that always makes the equation work. Because many of these opportunities grow organically, I can’t always have the PD, planning time, and mentoring sorted out. But that is similar to the challenge that teachers face in creating the change context in the first place. Teachers need to be able to build a space and task that opens an area up for students and then be able to support what emerges. The teacher will usually be one step behind — and that’s OK. As far as I know, psychic ability has not been made a prerequisite for a teaching certificate. Educated guesses? Yes. Predictions based on your experience? Sure.
My role is much the same, except the inquiry is what the teachers are trying to do. I need to be aware of what is going on in their classes, to engage them in meaningful dialogue about pedagogy and resources, and to be flexible enough to respond to their needs.
I guess what I am trying to say is that a lack of change, and a dearth of these kinds of environments occurs because of a problem in one or more of these areas.
I would add that effective Student Improvement Planning creates a context and sets the tone for this environment.
Great thinking, as always David. Thanks for sharing.