In a predictable future with a steady set of employment opportunities, the statement coming from in front of the classroom, "Now listen up; you'll need to know this for the test." doesn't seem out of place. From our children's view point, what they see as their future, however, makes this scenario seem like ancient history.
But we know teacher-centered, one-size-fits-all instruction is current reality for most students. Supporting teachers to change their practices - the practices they probably learned just fine with as students themselves - is an awesome opportunity for school leaders. But how?
- Believe in your teachers. How many times to you make small, subtle comments that indicate you don't really think they can meet the challenge? They can do it. They have to. You will help them. You will succeed.
- Don't take resistance as, "I will not." It's more likely to be, "I don't know how," or "I don't want to make a mistake."
- Show your belief in innovation and risk-taking. Highlight the work of teachers willing to try new things.
- Communicate the vision. Live and breathe the vision. Understanding and believing in the "why" behind personalized learning makes the "what" so much easier to do.
- Be ready to help find resources (and I'm not talking big bucks). Help teachers find articles, videos, things they can try in their classroom on personalized learning. Cover a teacher's class, so they can see a colleague in action.
Where do you start? Start by personalizing professional learning. Show your staff you are doing it too. Run professional development like you are the teacher you want each of them to be (but you want them to be even better). Get their feedback and have them co-design it with you. Once they experience it, they can do it. Be a risk-taker. You can do it. You believe in this. You have a great team. You will succeed.