Monday, October 12, 2015

Approaching Change

A week or two ago a colleague asked a great question. What needs to come first: a shift in mindset or a forced shift in practice?

This question was in context of creating change in assessment practices where a lot of change is necessary and we are unsure how much growth mindset we will encounter when we try to create that change. I am curious to hear how others may have tackled something like this...or how you think you might tackle it. Here is some background info if you think you might have some ideas/advice for me:

We have a small team of teachers who have joined a working team to both collectively move assessment practice forward, and to help each other achieve personal goals of change in assessment practice. The latter is the primary goal at this time.

We are working together using Rethinking Letter Grades (mentioned in my last post) to start to shape the foundation while getting people to revisit backward design (a concept that is not new, but has probably not been formalized in many areas of the school in a long time - teachers coming into a course are rarely being handed this type of thing). So at our next meeting (which is next week) we are going to help guide each other through creating Overarching Learning Goals for a course. Now here is the thing that this not help us will not help us gauge the willingness of the rest of the staff to try to undertake this - a task we will probably be attempting to undertake next semester.

So if we assume that, for the most part, we are the willing group then we have to decide: Do we try to tackle the willingness first? or do you just go head on into forcing them to make a change?

This question interests me because there will obviously be many options (combinations of the two options anyway) that will differ based on your leadership style and personality. But I really do wonder what will be the most effective approach.

I think I am leaning towards a joint approach. That we will have to use the purpose of the changes to convince people to be willing to change. But I don't think it will be an easy road.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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