The Gritty Truth of School Transformation: Eight Phases of Growth to Instructional Rigor by Amy M. Dujon

Phase 3. The Mud

  • Second-order change will take you through the mud. This happens when the excitement and newness begin to wear off. Amy likens this to the human immune system that tries to destroy foreign invaders. A leader needs moral commitment along with empathy for teachers implementing the new program. Avoid initiative fatigue and remove as many distractions as possible. New learning should not be something else on the plate but the plate itself. Let teachers focus, which might result in district and state requirements sliding a bit. Be ready for teachers getting together to bring complaints forward. (There is great advice on this.)
  • Cooperative planning is a key to efficiency and the leader should be involved at the beginning with all teams. After a while, the team members should be able to cooperate independently so the leader can dial it back. Leaders need to delegate more so they have more time to meet with teams. Use substitute time to free up teachers for more planning. Keep giving gentle nudges and sound like a broken record when it comes to using language associated with the project.

Phase 4. The Power of Teams

  • Instructional culture is a team effort. Not only must teachers work as a team, but students must learn how to work as part of autonomous teams as well. Research shows that teacher collaboration results in better student achievement. Unfortunately, teachers in the US spent 80% of their time delivering instruction, and direct instruction does not lead to critical thinking.
  • It is the leader’s job to create more time for teacher planning and collaboration. It’s also important to support leaders among the teaching staff. They will likely emerge from the cohort of first followers. The idea of leveraging early adopters is at work here. In addition to a number of thought-provoking questions for teachers to ask themselves, this chapter tells the story of how Amy’s school became somewhat famous for their transformation.

Phase 5. The Joy of Teaching is Back

  • With more student-centered instruction happening, Amy noticed that her conversations with students were much richer. Many teachers had reached the point where students were working harder than they were. From the principal to the teachers to the students, everyone had changed their basic scripts.
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