Reflections from the end:
What are the inhibitors to sustainability?
Transforming schools is an on-going process, which requires teachers and administrators to continuously adapt in order to meet the changing needs of students and the evolving needs of society. When examining the question of what are the inhibitors to sustainability --it is equally important to first answer the following question: 1) What is the difference between superficial change and deep meaningful change within our schools? Not enough educators and policy makers are aware of the difference and the fact that superficial change is easier to accomplish. School leaders are slowing developing an understanding that changing the physical structure and the use of time and space does not automatically result in collaboration and shared learning. In fact, developing leaders and teachers who understand that real collaboration requires focusing on the issues that matter within the school community is one of the greatest challenges to accomplishing deep meaningful change in schools.
Some of the inhibitors to sustainability include:
What are the promoters to sustainability?
- A shared vision for mathematics teaching and learning can overcome personal fears and the current reality of each stakeholder.
- Project teams must recognize that part of their role is to engage teachers and administrators to discuss the question of how to sustain reform efforts.
- Developing a rubric to assess where each school is located on the change continuum. Begin with the following guiding questions to develop your rubric:
Use the rubric to chart where each school is on the continuum and then ask relevant questions about where to place additional resources and energy?
- What are the elements of an effective study group?
- What does administrative support for study groups look like and sound like?
- Teachers are your greatest source for garnering public support for reform curricula and reform efforts. Helping teachers and teacher leaders understand their role as advocates for creating, supporting and sustaining a learning community are vital to long lasting change.
- Authentic partnerships with other districts and organizations that have a shared vision in order to share resources and strategies will also help to promote sustainability and garner support for reform efforts. As new leaders come into the community they are more likely to buy into reform efforts when they see themselves as part of a larger learning community.
- Support administrators and teachers in the process of outlining strategies to address the pressure of test prep. Using student work to engage teachers and administrators keep the focus of teaching and supervision centered on students. Administrators need opportunities to share their strategies on effective academic intervention in mathematics. For example, in Literacy administrators may find it easy to ask teachers from various content areas to provide small group instruction to students. However in mathematics where teacher content knowledge and effective pedagogy is an enormous challenge is this strategy as effective?
- Ladder of leadership to help build the capacity of the district and system. We have found that some of our greatest supporters come from teacher leaders who become assistant principals or take on other leadership roles in the school or district office. In addition, we strengthen platforms for support when principals who were part of reform efforts become district leaders or superintendents.
What aspects or elements are likely to be sustained?
- The aspects of reform efforts that are likely to be sustained are those that cost less and have the greatest political support. This is why public engagement of all stakeholders is key to sustainability.
- Change, which is not superficial, implies that you can't go back. When teachers and administrators learn to value the study group and real collaboration they become conscious of their roles as change agents and lifelong learners.