‘Reform is all a matter of change in the mindset & age old practices; let not the teachers’ alone embrace change while the rest continue practicing tradition & retaliate change’
When speaking of ‘education reform’ the onus is ushered fully on the teachers, and teachers are assumed to act like a ‘Messiah’ – who can single handedly bring in reform in education? However, such thoughts find a better place in fiction than in reality!
Teacher leadership is imperative to any change initiative brought forward in education and change typically begins with and is supported by strong administrative leadership. Having said so, it does not demean the role of teachers; it is simply acknowledging the fact that a strong administrator who provides leadership, autonomy and support can drive positive change in part by creating the necessary environment for effective PD practices. The idea is to have a shared leadership by education stakeholders over traditional form of institution governance and introducing reform in standard core curriculum.
In education, by stakeholders, it implies that anyone who is invested in the welfare and success of the educational institution and its students can be referred to as a Stakeholder. It includes administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents, families, community members, local business leaders and elected officials like school/ College Board members, city councilors and state representatives. In other word, stakeholders are one who has a ‘stake’ in the education institution and its students. The stake can be personal, professional, civic and financial interest or concern.
In order to resolve any problem, the commitment of a group of important actors (stakeholders) from different sectors towards a common agenda turns out fruitful. Any collective attempt to work will necessarily include characteristics such like common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and supportive infrastructure. And, besides this, there are some important elements of effective staff development that collectively contribute towards education reform. They are:
- Understanding and evaluating a clear purpose linked to research, student data, goals and needs
- Establishing accountability through classroom use of ideas and impact on students.
- Development of a common, shared language
- Shared decision making which includes an emphasis on teacher input
- Incorporation of relevant, practical, hands on activities
- Integration of opportunities for follow-up and application
- Strong leadership and a positive, collegial atmosphere.
Change and reform is more of an educative process because it involves learning and draining away of exhausted practices. This is perhaps the reason why there is a lot of discussion going on about professional development of teachers. Also, when speaking of bringing in structural transformation in the education system, the need for the teachers to acquire advanced knowledge and training, have willingness and readiness to embrace change, master up collaborative skills and align new set of beliefs and strategies for differentiating in curriculum are indeed critical aspects of the process. But shouldn’t the administrators and other stakeholders also enlighten themselves to align their mindset with that of the teachers in the reform process? Isn’t that equally important?
Collective imagination is an essential to any reform process and along with it, collaboration between all the stakeholders so that systematic change can be initiated. In order to bring forward large scale constructive initiative- the process requires rethinking professional learning, curriculum and instructional materials alteration, greater involvement of families, alteration in the assessment process and many other aspects of the education system. Thus the need for collaboration counts much importance.
It is important for the teachers and administrators to work together and help to implement policy decisions that is in the larger interest of the student’s wellbeing. The collaboration model in ABC is indeed exemplary because they have shown how teachers and administrators working together bring forth- “shared planning, decision making and responsibility. There is a greater deal of trust built between the groups, commitment for change and trust to fulfill the goals with collective efforts. To know more on the ABC collaborative model, click here.
Let teachers’ lead the education reform but together with them, administrative support and that of all those who are related to the welfare of education industry can bring forward the true meaning of education reform. To conclude, no reform process takes place in a jiffy and the same is here with education. It’s time to put aside all the egotistic and traditional thoughts aside and work towards the collective goal- leading towards education reform.
So what are your thoughts to it? Do let us know, if you differ with our opinion or wish to add something to the opinion, through your comments.