Where are you looking to anticipate change?
Change is something that a lot of people shy away from and even despise sometimes. It is not easy to change the way you do things, especially if what you are doing seems to be working. A lot of people truly believe in the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". In some instances this may work, but in education it can NOT be the norm. Just because something works one year, does not mean it will work the next year. Every year I am in education, I change the way I teach. Does that mean what I was doing to begin with was wrong? Not necessarily. It just means that I found a better or more efficient way of doing things. Or I may have found something different that makes it more understandable to students or even other teachers.
The biggest problem that schools can face is waiting until there is a problem and then trying to fix it after the fact. In the classroom, if a teacher waits until a student acts out and then responds, they have just lost valuable class time. The same goes for administration. If they wait until their test scores are low and then they say, "What do we do?" They have lost valuable teaching time with that whole school. The administration and teachers need to be thinking to the future and looking at best practices. Think about how the students are changing. Think about how the community is changing. That is going to affect the way that you teach and run your school. If you do not plan for those changes, you will have issues arise that you never even thought of and then you will be on your heels trying to react.
To help your school stay ahead of those changes, you need to make sure that you continue to be a life long learner yourself. You need to read about the newest trends, talk to people who are trying the newest technology and travel to places that are making changes. While you are doing those thing you need to build up a network of professionals who can help you understand the new trends and techniques that are needed to be successful. You need to visit other schools and see what other teachers and administration are doing to keep their school moving forward. While you are visiting those schools, make sure to make those networking connections so you can stay in contact with those teachers and learn form each other. When one of you learns about a new technique or tool that is introduced you can share that and help each other keep ahead of changes that are coming.
What is the diversity measure of your network?
When you are out there networking and meeting new people, you cannot only talk to people that are just like you. I would never want to have a bunch of friends who were just like me! I would get bored with everything always being the same and probably not like them, because they would have the same flaws I do. Instead of finding people just like ourselves to network with, we need to find a wide variety of people to network with. In your classroom, is every student the exact same? Of course not! So why would we only want one point of view when trying to teach a new concept? We need to have several different ideas on how we can teach something to make sure that we can relate it to all of our students who each have a special learning style. For us to have all of those different ideas and techniques, we need to get those ideas from somewhere! Most of the time, we get teaching ideas from our friends and people who we look to for new ideas. If all of those people have the same ideas as you, what is the point? You need to find a diverse group of people to network with. And as you are networking with those new and different people, they may introduce you to even more new and different people. Through those new people you will get even more new ideas.
In the past month I really started paying attention to Twitter. Now I was very against Twitter for a long time and wanted nothing to do with it! I thought that it was just people tweeting stupid comments and random pictures that no one wanted to see in the first place. I did not realize the wealth of knowledge there is to be found on Twitter as well as Pinterest and even Facebook! It is not just useless knowledge if you follow the right people. I have found several great educational blogs to follow and get ideas from to bring back to my school and my classroom. That right there is a network of very diverse people that I can get ideas from and learn from. I may not actually know some of the people that I follow, but I can still learn a lot from the things that they share and post. In the end it has made my network a much more diverse group which gives me the ability to discover endless ideas, techniques and resources to share in my class and with other teachers. I had to get over my preconceptions of those networking resources and realize what they truly had to offer! Which leads into the next question.
Are you courageous enough to abandon the past?
There is that saying again, If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We cannot live by those standards in education! We need to constantly be changing and evolving into better teachers and administrators for the sake of the children and the future. Even if a system is working for the time being, does not mean it will work in the future. It is a tough thing to change and even more difficult when what you are doing is working. When what you do is working, other people always want to see what you are doing and how you make it work. If you get complacent with what you are doing, it will soon become the bottom of the barrel, because others will continue to evolve. You need to keep changing and adapting to new technology, ideas and techniques. That is the only way to continue to stay on top of your field. If you want to be the best teacher, you have to change every year and revise what you are doing to match your students and the environment they come from. You could be the teacher of the year one year, but if you never change what you are doing after that, you will never get that honor again. Not because you are a bad teacher, but because you are not the most effective and adaptive teacher anymore. Everyday as teachers, we need to continue to prepare ourselves for what is coming. We may not know what is coming, but we have to think of all of the possibilities and be ready to adapt to whatever is thrown our way. If we do not, it can have a spiral effect on the future. BUT, if we are ready for whatever comes and we adapt to it, it can have a positive affect and make the world of a difference in not only childre!