I have been an instructional technology coach for 4 months, and I have learned one hard truth. Change can not come from the District. It can not come from Admin. They can both point the way, but real change in a school starts with teacher leaders. These diamonds in the rough, are tough to spot sometimes. They can be tough to bring out of their shell. They are however the essential ingredient in the change mixture. Without them, change does NOT WORK.
As a instructional coach, I am in 4 different schools. I see the change on a ground level every day, and the schools that lead are the ones with real teacher leaders. I am not talking about department chairs, PLC leaders, or that teacher that is the loudest one in meetings. I am talking about true, honest teachers leaders. We are talking about teachers that not only do incredible things in the classroom, but these are also the teachers who share best practices.
Right now, I have one school that is really hitting a homerun here, and much of their success can be attributed to one person. The other schools are doing great things, but one of the unique things about the district I work for is that they are a charter district. This has allowed schools to have quite a bit of control over how they use their local funds. One of the main reasons this school has hit such a homerun is they used those funds to hire a part time instructional coach. Now this may not be the answer for everyone, and it almost always depends on the actual person. This instructional coach though has done a fantastic job of spotting teacher leaders and pushing them to share. She has committees set up within the school to lead PD. These committees are made up of teachers leaders within the school.
You know what's also happening? These same teacher leaders are sharing. They are pushing their colleagues to step out of their comfort zones. I have seen a staff that has gone from being in their little bubbles to taking small ideas from these teacher leaders and making them happen. Kids are creating. Kids are having choices. Are they done with changing ways to personalized learning? No, but the process has definitely started.
I think another one of my schools would be considered by many to be the most ready to make a change to personalized learning in the district. You know why? They have respected teacher leaders who are pushing the charge at the school. They don't even have a great number of devices per class, but on any given day you can walk the halls and see a number of kids using those devices to create. This is a school that has school that has young energetic teachers that share. That's the common denominator.
Where does admin fit in all off this? Where does the district office fit in all of this? The easy answer to that is vision and growth. First, the vision of what classrooms should be has to come from the district office. They are the folks who have to allocate finances, and they have to use those limited finances in smart resourceful way. This means there has to be some sort of vision of what you want the classroom to be. If a teacher does not have the necessary resources change just simply can't happen. Another focus of the district office should be on developing teacher leaders. The district I work with has a great program to identify and task teacher leaders to become that in their own building. It is a great model other districts should follow.
Local school admin should be the main group challenging their best and brightest to become that teacher leader. They should be challenging those teachers to get out of their comfort zone. Have those teachers share with more than their PLC. Support them as they want to go to conferences, and not only learn but share with educators outside of their school. Give them incentives to be that leader.
If you want change to happen pull in the best and the brightest who are int he field every day. They can change their own classroom, and then that word spreads. Push others to see the cool and innovative innovative innovative these teacher are doing. Have them share as much as possible. Let them make decisions for your school. When teacher leaders feel like they have they have a say, real change will happen.