I recently finished reading a wonderful book by Grant Lichtman called #EdJourney. This book is the result of an 89 day trip in which he visited 64 schools and interviewed over 600 people on educational innovation and the future of schools. Part One of the book is on roadblocks to change and innovation in schools and then gives examples of how schools he visited have overcome these. The four major obstacles found were:
- Time (the most common)
- People (risk, fear and growth mindset)
Each of these are discussed in a chapter and also gives examples of how schools have overcome each of these.
The next 5 obstacles (and possible solutions) were also identified in 1 final chapter of this section: Students are changing; Inertia; Inward focus, Communicating value proposition; and Working the problem ourselves. Being involved in a new school, we have discussed (and I have written about here and here) how change is hard. I really enjoyed a common theme from this section of the book that change is not hard, it is uncomfortable – Grant uses examples like stopping the spread of Nazi Germany as what was really hard. This book also gave me a new definition of innovation, that I really like for showing it is not just about change for change’s sake:
Innovation is a change that adds value to your organisation.
The explanations and possible solutions covered within this section are well worth the price of buying the book and I would recommend all working within schools to check this book out. There are also many, many inspiring educators and schools named in the book that you can connect with online to learn more about/from/with. I recognised names from within the #dtk12chat community and also found many more people that I have now followed on twitter. Reading through the book, I started generating a list of What If questions for schools and education based upon ideas covered or thoughts provoked by Grant’s writing (I enjoyed seeing later in the book that he arrived home from the trip with hundreds of What If questions on Post its!). Here’s a selection of the wonderings that reading this first section of #EdJourney provoked for me:
- What if the school year was designed to reflect the vision of your school?
- What if all schools had professional sharing programmes in place – both within and between local schools?
- What if all teachers had time each year to visit other schools in action?
- What if all schools had more time for professional development of their teachers?
- What if school leadership appointments were based on courage as the number one characteristic looked for?
- What if school resources (time, people, money, knowledge) were aligned with the school vision?
- What if school leaders were the ones asking the most questions instead of giving the most answers?
- What if all schools had an innovation team (comprised of staff, students and community)?
- What if students and community were involved in Teacher Only Days?
- What if Universities accepted multiple measures of performance?
- What if pursuing new ideas was part of everyone’s job description?
Grant has also been invited to speak at ULearn this year so I am excited about seeing what challenges he provides in his talks at the conference but also in other workshops that he is looking to run whilst in New Zealand (I am certain that lots of NZ schools will be chasing him down to work with them whilst he is here!). p.s. on a personal level, Grant has pushed my thinking over the last 12 months through our online connections so I am really looking forward to meeting him face to face finally as well!