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Implementing and sustaining change in schools

  • 1.  Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-13-2020 04:11 AM
    Hello everyone,
    Recently, the institution where I work experienced a complex change initiated at the school level that wasn't successful at the end.  This left staff overwhelmed and stressed as there were too many things to handle all at once. I am currently reading up to gain insight into why it failed even though the vision behind the change was welcomed by all. If anyone has any ideas on how to successfully implement and sustain change or has any change model that has worked for them, I will be grateful if you could share your ideas or thoughts.
    Thanks
    Catherine

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    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher/Instructional coach
    FCT
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-13-2020 05:20 AM
    Hi,
    Do you mind me asking what the change was, or the category? Sometimes it matters when looking at the change theory in my opinion.

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    Kelly Clark
    Early Achievers Coach
    Everett WA
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  • 3.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-13-2020 07:09 AM
    Hello Kelly,
    The change focused on the mode of curriculum delivery and the way that students engaged with learning. The urgency that was given to it with limited guidance left teachers bringing their own interpretation to how they felt the change process should be. There was the emphasis on developing relevant skills but students performance was assessed with test score which dropped drastically during the two years that the change happened. To be honest, I think that the expectations and final outcome were unclear. Teachers feedback by way of questioning or requesting traoning were perceived as being resistant. Parents didn't understand the need for the change and weren't happy about the test scores. It was a very frustrating time for all.

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-14-2020 08:30 AM
    It seems like you've identified clues as to what to do differently.  1. Test scores aren't always a reflection of what and how children learn.  It's more important that the teaching has opened up pathways to curiosity, creativity, independence, interdependence, and reflection.  That can't always be defined by a neat test.  But you may not be able to move the needle towards more reflective and authentic assessment.  Too often test scores are used to punish teachers.  2.  It sounds like this was thrust upon teachers and there was no process that included, let alone informed, them.  This will rarely end up with a successful outcome.  Success might be accomplished by taking a year to have discussion at all levels of the school about what changes are needed, why, and how to best implement them.  It sounds like the end result alienated teachers, parents, and probably children.  I'm sorry that your school went through this.  It's not a good way to educate.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 5.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 02:38 AM
    Hello Aren,
    I appreciate your response to this thread. This was a learning phase for me as it stirred up lots of questions that got me researching about a variety of topics. It was a difficult time as no one was allowed to make suggestions or share their experiences. And yes, one area that needs to be looked at are other ways of measuring student's learning. We as teachers tried to used projects, presentations and discussions to gauge the students learning and the way that they apply their understanding. In the end, sadly the paperwork is what management and parents want to see. I am sure that if enough time was allotted to this change process, everyone had input, with concerns addressed along and the implementation was done differently, it might have been successful. However, I also wondered if it would have been sustained with the change to management. Thanks again for the response.

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-14-2020 11:26 AM
    Hello Catherine,

    About 8 years ago, I took over directorship at a center that was struggling in many areas. Even though the center was "play based" there was no structure to what was done or how it would be implemented. I knew a change needed to be made, but I also knew I needed to show respect and support for my educators of young minds.

    It sounds as if this change was fast based and the teachers did not have much , if not any, contribution to the change. It saddens me to hear that, as the teachers are the ones to implement the new idea and would be responsible if it wasn't successful. If trust issues and hard feeling have now become an issue as the teachers are left feeling down, I would suggest that before anything else gets tried, time is spent rebuilding  the teachers up. It sounds like you guys have looked at why it wasn't successful, but what also needs to be addressed is there was no buy in from the teachers or them being set up to truly understand how to implement the change. Things can look good on paper, but since children and teachers are not made from cookie cutters, they all have different skills, behaviors, and way of doing things, time need to be taken to get everything settled.

    The basic changes at our center, honest took about 2 years. I have now been here 7 years and we just submitted our NAEYC accreditation candidacy items and expect a site visit within 6 months. During the 7 years, we have switched our curriculum center wide, added an assessment process, created family/community events, and build a strong parent advisory board. It didn't happen over night and a lot of support and training went into the process, so that everyone felt successful.During the transition, my teachers were able to express their concerns and we worked together to solve problem or little bumps in the road. This change would not of happened without them and they needed to be part of the process.

    Every work place must have trust and with trust comes the understanding that disagreements will happen. Everyone should feel safe to express themselves and truly share how they are feeling and what they felt needs to be done to have a positive end for everyone. Does your work place have an advocate for the teachers or someone that can help be your voice to the powers that be?




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    Tara Gray
    Director
    Cornerstone Children's Center
    Berkeley CA
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  • 7.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 03:02 AM
    Hello Tara,
    I am excited about the successful change that you effected to your school, well done! I am glad that you considered all stakeholders in the process which is key to any change initiative. Trust, motivation, proper communication and training would have made lots of difference to our change process. It is commendable that you remained with the school even after the change initiative, I think that it's a good way to consolidate and sustain change to become the norm.
    The voice we had were the teachers on the management team but they were more like instruction delivering machines. They were not allowed to share their concerns or those of others and an attempt to meet with the school board was also non-productive as they had been informed about teachers resisting the change which was not the case. Unfortunately, It's the third year into the change initiative and the school board is only now realising the error and are trying to make amends as the school will be having a BSO inspection in June of this year. Lots of teachers have also resigned their appointment and the headteacher as well. I am hoping for the best as we move forward. Thanks for sharing your experience, I have learnt lots of useful strategies from it.

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 12:42 PM

    Hello Catherine,

    Cornerstone is a ministry of a large Church and one of the things all supervisors and directors of the different ministries had to do as a group was read " The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable."

     

    I think it really helped all of us. Might be something to suggest. People have to feel safe to share what they are feeling and leaders have to be open to what is said, even if it is about them.

     

    Hang in their and keep swimming :')

     

    Tara Dawn Gray

    Director, Cornerstone Children's Center

     






  • 9.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-16-2020 03:32 PM
    Hi Tara,
    Your encouragement is well appreciated. I will read the suggested book.
    Thanks

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher/Instructional coach
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-14-2020 08:12 AM
    Hello All,

    Quite a few years ago, the school I worked in secured a new principal who had a vision for the school that was different from what we were practicing.  I completely agreed with her plan, BUT, I, along with all of the staff, felt she tried to implement too many changes at once.  Teachers were overwhelmed and angry and it made it very difficult to stay positive.  I felt then, and still believe that when a school is going to make changes of any kind, it is more effective to do it SLOWLY.  Making changes is often a good thing but it is important that teachers have TIME to understand and implement the changes, thereby insuring more success.

    Gina James

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    Gina James
    Teacher
    NYCDOE
    Williston Pk NY
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  • 11.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 02:15 AM
    Hello Gina,
    It's sad that you had to go through a similar experience. I understand the need for headteachers to want to make an impact in the schools that they lead, however, I think that there should be an acceptance by all that the change is necessary and a way forward mapped out by all stakeholders. Unfortunately, ours was more of a top-down model of change. I totally agree that the implementation should have been slow if possible broken down into workable phases and probably piloted. This was a learning experience for me as I wondered why this change was different. I guess every leader has a different leadership style. Thank you for responding to this thread it's reassuring to know that others have experienced the same and even better, that we are learning from to make better choices with regards to leadership.

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 08:55 AM
    Catherine,

    In case it might be helpful, I wanted to share an Exchange article that my colleagues and I wrote about sustaining change in a program. This was a complex professional development initiative implemented in a Head Start program, so there may be some parallels and useful information for you. I'd be happy to talk further if you wanted to connect via e-mail, please let me know.

    Here is the article: https://www.childcareexchange.com/catalog/product/sustaining-change-in-every-classroom/5017840/



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    Beth Menninga
    St. Paul, MN
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  • 13.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 11:26 AM
    I am sorry to hear how poorly change worked out in your school. For one thing, change needs time to take root. You can not decide if it is successful in one year. You need a minimum of three years. Also, as others have stated, you need to choose the best way to measure the success of your school's changes. The choice of how to measure success has a lot to do with the goals you set for the change. What kinds of change were you trying to implement? What tools align with those types of changes? Standardized test scores are not always the most appropriate measures for a whole host of innovations. It is usually the default one that is chosen without any thought.

    Change is very difficult. Change involves a lot of unlearning, giving up ways of enacting our work that are comfortable and taking risks.  There is a preliminary process that must take place where everyone is involved in thinking about the "change" or innovation and what it entails. The current culture of the school may be upended with the change and that needs to be reviewed and discussed. The school culture that has been built up can be a barrier to successful implementation of change or innovation. Seymour Sarason has written about this in a book written many years ago (1971), The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change.

    I would like to add another book and a chapter in a business book that addresses issues dealing with innovation. I would rather think about this as innovation, rather than change as a whole.

    Ann Pelo and Margie Carter's book, From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining Our Work, from Exchange Press. This book is a beautifully written and thoughtful analysis of how to guide everyone who is associated with a school through reimagining and rethinking their work.

    Chapter 8 in Clayton M. Christensen"s book, The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, from Harvard Business Review Press.

    Chapter 8 in Christensen's book examines areas of an organization that need to be appraised in order to determine what structures and supports the organization needs in order to proceed with innovation. Leaders need to examine the organization's capabilities through a framework that Christensen put forward. He claims that there are three factors in his framework that must be examined that affect what an organization can and cannot do: its resources, processes, and values.

    In addition, books and papers written by Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves, together and individually, deal extensively with issues related to change.

    I hope this helps.

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 14.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 03:15 PM
    Hello Beth,
    I appreciate you sharing this article. I will access it and get back to you asap.
    Many thanks,
    Catherine

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-15-2020 03:23 PM
    Hi Nora,
    I completely agree with all the points that you raised. I have read a few of Hargreaves and Fullan's books. I will also look up the suggested references.
    Many thanks,
    Catherine

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-16-2020 09:50 AM
    Good luck. Change is hard and needs to be carefully thought out, taking into account all the players in and out of the school.

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Implementing and sustaining change in schools

    Posted 01-16-2020 03:39 PM
    Hi Nora,
    Certainly! Thanks again

    ------------------------------
    Catherine Akpan
    Teacher
    Education
    FCT
    ------------------------------