Optimizing Changes within Schools

Submitted a month ago
Created by
Brad Choyt

Schools can be among some of the most difficult institutions to change. There are many reasons for this, including the finite number of opportunities teachers generally have for long-term planning or for collaborations with colleagues, the lack of funding for professional development, minimal resources available for long-term visioning or strategic planning, and school leadership that may not always support innovation. And then consider the shortage of teachers across the country and, as a result, the greater percentages of professionals who do not have the necessary depth of pedagogical and curricula training. Taken all together, one can understand why it’s an uphill battle for schools to innovate, even when they recognize the necessity of doing so.

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Yet, most educators are keenly aware that the content students need to know and how they can most effectively learn it is constantly evolving. Even when many obstacles are cleared away, it is often difficult to implement any number of new initiatives that are necessary to prepare students for the range of challenges they will face in their lifetimes—let alone to help them get ahead of the curve.

So how can schools make the most of their limited bandwidths and increase opportunities for innovation? To start, faculty and staff can build consensus around the most important problem at their school and then explore initiatives that will have the greatest potential impact. Once identified, teachers and administrators can collaborate more effectively as they take specific steps to address these priorities and make improvements, all while working within timelines that are reasonable yet finite. Once the changes are implemented, the faculty and staff should work together to evaluate the new initiatives and their potential outcomes. Knowing what was successful and what wasn’t after implementing changes will make future innovation more effective, fostering continuous improvement in other areas at the school. And though initiating a cycle of identification, implementation, and evaluation may seem difficult to maintain at times, I believe it’s necessary for schools to stay vibrant while continually striving to meet the needs of current students. There’s always room for improvement within every school, no matter how many or how few resources are available to make it happen.  

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