As with all sustainable and effective change in education you need a clear vision to set the direction and then step by step progression making sure everything you do takes you closer. The more people engaged in this the better. For this reason most of my school improvement work has focussed on change achieved by teams rather than individual ideas.
Achieving Change through Teams or ACT, is a collection of those strategies that appear to work in most settings. I have made this set very prescriptive not because I feel that prescription is the answer but just because I am aware this is just one of many sources of information you will be using and it is easier to provide one complete model without claiming it is the only one.
ACT is designed around six steps of an improvement cycle. I have tested this process in a wide range of contexts so that there can be common language between people regarless of thier role; student, teacher, parent, school leader, district lead or ministers.
- Step 1 – Focus in on what it is you want to improve and why.
- Step 2 – Decide upon a strategy for how to improve it.
- Step 3 – Get started: Put your strategy into practice
- Step 4 – Monitor and review your strategy to make minor adjustments as needed
- Step 5 – Evaluate how well it went
- Step 6 – Share successes
To help you achieve each of these steps, I intend to continually add to this site under these headings. The idea is to provide enough material and connection to make the site a useful resource that people can return to. As with all the sites I produce they are aspirational – meaning that they will eventually provide all of the mentioned information but for a time there will be gaps and changes in direction. Please check back for further development.
In all contexts, improvement works best when it is continuous. When using this process you need to pace yourself so that you can maintain continuous improvement rather than a series of separate stop-start projects.Single improvements are useful but it is far better to achieve many small improvements throughout your career rather than exhaust your teams on one. The question to answer is how can you sustain continuous improvement for long periods of time and bring others along with you?
Analogy of the hoop and stick
Like the old game of hoop and stick where the winning team keeps the hoop rolling the longest you need to…
- Find a pace you can sustain – If you push it really hard then, whilst it will go faster, you have to run to keep up and very quickly become exhausted. So you need to find the pace of change you can maintain rather than a series of high energy projects punctuated by periods of exhaustion.
- Enough pace to sustain momentum – If you try to go to slow then you lose momentum and it actually becomes harder to maintain your direction. So you need to ensure that change is challenging enough to be meaningful and engaging.
- Keep checking your direction and route – The terrain will change and unless you have some strategies ready to use you can get pushed off track. Sending groups ahead to prepare the ground and planning routes that avoid obsticles are two such strategies as well as putting extra effort in as you hit an uphill stretch and easing off in the downhill.
- Measure success in terms of how many people you involve not how fast some of them run – Finally, to take the analogy too far, the only way you can realistically keep the hoop moving continuously is if you work as a team with really good communication because everyone needs to replenish their energy and need others they can trust to take over at times. The more people engeged the more reliable it is.
Click on ‘Support available’ to see the kinds of support available now and planned. Or click on one of the steps to get started.
(c) Dan Buckley