Thursday, October 27, 2016

Promoting and Advocating for Change

A few years ago my team advocated for a change to a three-teacher shared teaching/learning model. We spent hours creating our proposal, responding to critique, and promoting this change. We had to endure a very long waiting period until we received approval, and when we received the approval it was a cautious and less than enthusiastic yes from some administrators (others championed the idea).

I was very upset during the waiting period. I couldn't understand why some would make us wait so long for a yes or no, and why the waiting period was marked with little communication at best. Also while we waited for yes or no, we missed out on other important opportunities that could have supported the model. Nevertheless, the model was approved, and we feel it is a very successful model for many reasons. We've still, to this day, received little feedback or commentary from the naysayers, yet the champions are in agreement with us about the model's success.

It's difficult to promote change.

For example, I was recently involved in a meeting of educators who were promoting change, and the change was met with little support. There is good rationale for this change, but clearly some hurdles too--hurdles we've come to understand some time after the change was first discussed. Yesterday, upon advocating for that change again and offering another suggestion, I was given guidelines about how to advocate for change and the accepted process. This morning I followed that process to the best of my understanding.

I would like making change to be a natural and welcome part of school life. I would like change ideas and change agents to be embraced with dynamic, strategic process, however, this clearly depends upon the change. There are changes I don't believe in or welcome too. Usually I have little voice or choice related to these changes. When changes come with good rationale, choice, and voice, it's much easier to embrace change, but when voice, choice, and the rationale don't exist or don't match the research, then it's more difficult to embrace that change.

The new process for change prompted me to take a strategic approach to advocating for this change. If our first meeting was led with greater attention to strategic process, we may not have reached this point, but now that we have, I can see opportunity for greater share and valued change and development of our system-wide grade-level program. Of course, I'd like to see a broader, more vigorous path to uplifting our program including the tools, programs, content, and pedagogy we use, but for now I'll embrace the process that exists and move forward.

Change is never easy. It takes time and collaboration. Good process, transparency, and inclusion helps. Let's see where the next step takes the team.