Getting the Groundswell

Sep 25, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Collaborate

Education is such an interesting field. It involves elements of so many other occupations – coach, financial manager, psychologist, marketing, and many more. All these elements ensure that there is never a dull day.

Since moving into the area of ICT education I have been involved in the launch of a number of whole school initiatives. Some have been very successful, whilst others could have run a little more smoothly. As this school year is well underway we have a number of initiatives which are ready in the wings but are there lessons to be learned for passed experiences? Here at the things I am thinking about as we prepare for launch:

  • Building a groundswell of support. Often doing a “soft launch” can help to build positive experiences and “iron out” the kinks. For example when blogging first started up at our school there was a small group of teachers who set up their own class blog. Slowly more and more of their colleagues joined up and we got to a stage where a significant number of staff were blogging and we were getting a lot of positive feedback from parents and other schools. It was decided then that we would roll out blogs for each class. With the groundswell of support the transition to blogs was very smooth. People had an idea of what they were getting involved in.
  • Transparency of decision making. Some decisions need to be made quickly and this doesn’t always allow for a “soft launch” approach. In these instances it is important that the reasons behind the decisions are also presented so all parties involved can see the rational behind the decision. People need to see the “why” so they can gain a perspective of a decision.
  • Focusing on the end goal. As an initiative is rolled out there are always going to be challenges faced which need to be addressed. As these challenges are met it is important that all parties are aware of the end goal – improving student learning.
  • Integrating ideas. Integration has been a focus of classroom practice of sometime now but often when new initiatives are developed the connections with our current ideas/strategies/initiatives are not highlighted. When introducing a new initiatives it is important to highlight how it is connected to current practice and how it will fit into the whole school program.

Hopefully by focusing on these areas as we roll out our initiatives this year we can avoid some of the challenges we have faced in the passed. As they say “experience is the best teacher”.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Sunova Surfboards

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • I’ve read the things you are thinking about as you prepare for your launch and I think they are ‘spot on’. There is, though, one extra thing I would like to add, something which I have found to be important; that is the issue of ‘ownership’.
    If you want to spread something across a school then each person needs to feel some ‘ownership’ of it. In this way, people are more likely to want to make a success of it. It also ‘values’ people, their contributions and engenders support.
    The alternative might be to have staff or users feel that something has been ‘foisted’ upon them by someone else; someone who simply had an ‘idea’, no matter how good. This simply creates unnecessary barriers which have to be taken down.
    I guess this may sound a bit like ‘business’ gobbledegook, which may reflect my more recent work in commerce since leaving teaching but I still believe that ‘ownership’ is important when launching initiatives.
    This is not to take away from the work of the originator(s), it is more an effort to get their work more readily accepted.

    • You are right – I totally passed over “ownership”. I think in my mind I was lumping it together with building a groundswell of support but I didn’t explain my thoughts. Having people feel as if they are part of the decision making process is very important. This feeling of ownership can be developed through involving a range of people in all stages of an initiative – development, implementation and support/review. Thanks for the suggestion and reminding me of another area we need to think about when we are launching out ideas.

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