Showing posts with label change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label change. Show all posts

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Finding a positive mindset

Often in teaching things are not done the way you would like.  Things were done differently in the past and now you are being asked to change.  The changes appear to be worse than what was done before.

You can do a few things, some that are positive, will help you adjust and develop a positive mindest:

- seek to understand the change

- look for the positive in the change

- identify where you can learn new skills

- assist in the analysis of the changes

- discuss the changes openly in a constructive manner

- examine ways to make the change work for you

- be willing to give the change a chance

- understand it is not always the implementer that has instigated the change

- you may not be able to be told all of the reasons for the change

There are things that you can do that can cause you distress and potentially affect your career:

- lose perspective (make it out to be bigger than it is)

- whiteant the person making the change (be positive to the person but negative out of earshot)

- actively seek allies to create groundswell to undermine the change (seek to change the opinions of others to oppose the change)

- encourage others to speak up against the change (this is especially poor when senior members encourage younger members but do not speak up themselves for fear of being seen as overly negative)

- passively resist the change (say that you will but not do it)

- be overly negative about the change (discuss it as a failure before it has had a chance to succeed)

- personalise attacks and be adversarial (attack the person rather than consider the change)

- be the squeaky wheel (that is known for complaining)

- be the rebel (that is known for obstructing change)

It is tempting to fall into negative habits. It's hard when changes make your job harder (and easier for others) and it can taint your whole outlook on teaching if you are not careful.  

Ultimately it is not possible to provide an optimal environment with the perfect amount of personel available, optimal class sizes and all of the resources required to do the job all of the time.  It is a compromise between available resources, wants and needs.  Things that work may not be sustainable in the holistic balance that is the delivery of education in a school.

Where a school has a bloated upper school offering, small class sizes and is well resourced, it indicates that there are some hard times ahead.  Unfortunately with increased scrutiny on schools, this cannot be sustained any more under the one-line budget.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Change management and the half cohort

When I heard the 'local solutions for local issues' chant last year, a siren went off in my head saying here comes another case of pushing responsibility down the line. The half cohort has been mismanaged thus far and schools now have to find 'innovative solutions' to maintain student levels and thus staffing levels.

Knowledge management is a key aspect in any organisation. If we let an ill thought out decision and implementation (like the half cohort) damage our long term ability to provide a service, this is a very poor management decision. Yet this is what we are faced with. When smaller numbers come in next year, schools face losing FTE. With a loss of FTE comes a loss in capability to deliver and retain content and a loss of knowledge of how to manage our students.

Innovative solutions typically means something experimental cobbled together with a low chance of success, with little forethought. This is because true innovative solutions requires a lot of work prior to implementation - after all, if it was easy everyone would be doing it already and it would not be innovative.

Once we have identified possible solutions we than have to consider how that change will occur. Managing change requires patience, skill and understanding on part of the participants. Change is a technical problem - not a people problem as too often people see it.

Steps in change management are:
a) determining the need for change
b) determining the obstacles to change
c) implementing change
d) evaluating change
(Human Resource Management, R.J. Stone, 2002)

In this case a driver for change is that we need to reduce FTE in 2010 and preserve school capability post the half cohort with fewer staff to share the load. Potentially the reverse issue happens in 2011 as the students held back in 2010 will appear in 2011. Using that knowledge (on face value) change may not be required as although retaining staff is more expensive than letting staff go, schools face the issue in 2011 of trying to restaff. A second driver for change is to re-instate job security. Whilst this issue is over the head of staff, good staff are more likely to consider opportunities elsewhere in case the job axe reaches them.

We then reach the second test, 'how to implement change'. Schools are now looking at where the 'fat' can be trimmed. Timetabling in this aspect is one of the biggest concerns. If a teacher leaves/retires/is let go organically another teacher of similar ability is rarely available on staff that fits the timetable to teach the topic (and if they do, they leave another similar hole elsewhere on the timetable). As restaffing is not an option, the solution here is usually a teacher teaching out of area or an 'innovative solution' to be used such as using leftover capability of various teachers to share a class, multi-age grouping (MAG - eg. grouping yr8/9 classes together) or integrated classrooms (eg. combined English/S&E classes).

The third test is the biggest concern where innovative solutions are bandied about. There is no doubt in my mind that given time and money, any solution can be made to work. My concern is that neither time nor money are available for such. For example, integrated classrooms may take up to five years to get right with dedicated staff committed to the project - one out of the box cannot work as student content and contextual entry points are different at each school. Furthermore staff that can create and plan these engaging projects are few and far between. Leftover capacity is nearly always a poor option. MAG streamed classes require a lot of skill to teach and have issues attached related to differences in work ethic and have the tendency to be taught to the middle (or bottom). MAG unstreamed classes exacerbate developmental, context ual and content issues thus requiring even more from the teacher than streamed classes. If we consider that the main issue resolves itself after 5 years we need to again ask whether these solutions warrant the change requirements for implementation.

The fourth test is the big one. If we are truly contemplating change we need to evaluate current performace before change has occurred, such that we can check later that the change has been positive. It is this step that shows good management from poor management. Pre-defined outcomes need to be set if we are to avoid 'crisis management' and move to structured 'change management'. NAPLAN is not the answer (though it can be one measurable) as it only measures what can be assessed in a snapshot test. It does not take into account staffing issues, affective requirements and behavioural response. More so it does not predict or respond to the potential success or damage to students in upper school (as is seen in some poorly managed middle school programmes). To realise the perils of over reliance on NAPLAN take a look at year 8 NAPLAN results and map them to senior school students. Ask yourself what happened to the block of students that did well in year 8 but were lost by year 10.

Furthermore if we instigate change 'from the hip' it makes it much more difficult to learn from our mistakes. If we know what we have done poorly, we can then do it differently in the future. This need to reflect is the key to success and to my mind, when this occurs, it is true 'change'. Something we need to consider more when defining future success.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Getting the job done.

It's a sad day when a teacher realises that they cannot get done what needs to get done and feel helpless about doing anything about it. Change in a school is difficult, fraught with committees to get things done. I've watched a number of enthusiastic teachers fall in a heap knowing that once upon a time they could affect more real change within the classroom than they can now.

The strategy of any great leader is to gather great people around you. Working with great people, great achievements can be made. We are not able in today's employment climate to attract these great people in any real numbers.

Those that we have left need to be treasured and nurtured, especially those with skills that are not readily reproduced such as upper school teachers. As a newby, without their support, ideas and guidance I would be flotsam and my students would be washing around me.

These people that keep an eye on our programmes, have a quiet word to a difficult student, give us gentle encouragement and directions to travel need to be reminded occasionally of the great job they are doing both by teachers and parents when they believe courses are going right - not just when things hit the fan.