Tuesday, February 24, 2015

5 Components Necessary for A Successful School Environment

The Managing Complex Change model puts language to that which makes some schools successful while others struggle. The model looks at five components necessary to create a desired environment. These include vision, skills, incentives, resources, action plan. If any one piece is missing the model indicates results schools will experience including change, confusion, anxiety, gradual change, frustration, and a false start. 

When thinking of successful schools such as Science Leadership Academy, The MET, The Island School, The iSchool, you will find they have all those components in place. On the other hand, when I hear teachers lamenting about their school failures, the model brings clarity to the fact that one or more of these components are missing. 


Below is the chart that lays this out. Following the chart, I'll take a look at what each missing component might look like in a school environment. As you read, consider which, if any are components, are missing at your school.
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Lack of Vision = Confusion
When I hear exasperated teachers spinning their wheels, working so hard to get ready for all the various mandates and requirements, but never feeling a sense of accomplishment, it is clear there is not a tangible school vision that has been communicated. In some cases this is because what is being imposed does or can not reconcile with what the school wanted for their vision.

Skill Deficit = Anxiety
My heart goes out to those with a skill deficit. They are required to implement a curriculum they are not trained in using or being evaluated via measures with which they are not familiar. Or…they are put into a position they were not trained for or prepared to embrace.  Social media provides a great medium for helping these teachers get up to speed, but when the outreach occurs, the anxiety is abundantly clear. 

Lack of Incentives = Gradual Change
It is not unusual for innovative educators to feel like and be perceived as misfits. Islands onto their own engaging in practices others are not familiar with and maybe even fear. They are doing great work that might not be embraced or even understood in the school. Innovative educators get that what they are doing may not be embraced where they work, as a result, incentives may be non-existent. In such cases, it’s not even that there is gradual change, but rather change is not embraced. It’s a difficult pill to swallow, but in many cases schools have no interest in making such changes. That’s why these incentives don’t exist.

Lack of Resources = Frustration
This is the most frustrating and least acceptable of all. A school has all components in place, but they can not acquire the resources to do what is best for children. They have a vision, plan, and all the rest, but without the resources their hands are tied. In the case of innovative educators this might be outdated equipment, electrical or wireless. Rather than engaging in and focusing on practices that help children, their time and effort is spent begging, borrowing, and jerry-rigging what they have to achieve their goals. Staff in these schools are frustrated. They know their students deserve better.

No Action Plan = False Start
This is sort of the magic pill issue. A school will buy a shiney new program expecting it to fix all ills. The problem is programs alone don’t work. You need a plan of action where steps are provided for people to take to find success.  A program without a plan will lead to people going in a direction they feel is right, but since there is no plan to refer to, the result is a lot of false starts. 

What about where you work? Do you have all these components or are some missing? If you have all components or if some are missing, share in the comments what that looks like in your environment. Take the survey below to indicate where you stand then check out the results to see about others.

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