- Technology adoption and innovative teaching practices are becoming commonplace in the classroom, particularly as educators look toward more blended and experiential learning strategies — but ensuring success will also require school leaders to consider whether teacher buy-in is critical for a given initiative, according to eSchool News.
- On one hand, many education experts say teacher buy-in is important because educators' comfort and feelings toward tech adopted are key to that technology's successful implementation, but others claim that teacher buy-in can sometimes be overemphasized and inadvertently stifle innovation.
- According to eSchool News, teacher buy-in for a classroom tool will also most likely affect how students perceive it, which can impact learning outcomes, so finding a balance between pushing innovation and getting faculty support comes down to administrators taking the time to understand teachers' hesitations or emotional anxieties around change and working with them to find a solution.
Lack of at least some teacher buy-in for change initiatives in a school can diminish the effectiveness of those projects. Teachers, who are closest to the students, are responsible for delivering new technology and strategies in an effective manner. According to two officials at Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut writing for eSchool News, a rush to implement new technologies and changes without teacher buy-in or a proper strategy are some of the main reasons why blended learning programs fail. Simply put, moving too quickly without giving faculty the support they need or hearing their concerns can be a recipe for failure.
But beyond just getting support for a technology or program, administrators are increasingly seeing that leaving teachers out of decision-making conversations affects not only students, but also the school environment. Statistics reflect this reality, as 8% of teachers leave the profession each year — more often than not for feeling that they lacked a supportive school culture. As schools increasingly move toward becoming "future ready" and adopt new learning strategies, not meeting the needs of faculty can lead to unforeseen setbacks.
Administrators can take steps to avoid such a consequence by actually listening to what teachers want and working to understand their hesitations. For instance, Principal Lourenco Garcia of Revere High School was able to successfully implement strategies to prepare his school for the 21st century by focusing in on faculty professional development, support and facilitation of student-centered learning communities, which helped teachers feel as though they had a sense of ownership over transformation in their classrooms. In another case, Superintendent Mario Andrade of Bristol Warren Regional School District in Rhode Island made professional learning communities a 24/7 commitment by always paying attention to what faculty needed. When he had teachers collaborate on ideas for technology adoption with reviews, assessments, and data, he could see issues with projects and immediately respond to them.
It's an issue at the higher ed level, as well, with this reality becoming unavoidable as colleges and universities must adopt modern technologies and innovative strategies to stay ahead. Education Dive attended the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's meeting last month, where education experts spoke toward disruptive innovation in the industry, saying that institutions will fall behind if they don't start to make changes that meet the demands of a more diverse and technologically savvy student body. As higher ed leaders adapt, faculty buy-in will be an important factor in ensuring that changes are made successfully.
Examples of college leaders taking steps to include staff in the decision-making conversation include Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe, who created steering committees around chief concerns expressed through campus-wide surveys. And Robert Morris University President Christopher Howard has noted that it can be difficult to get support for change in universities, but often times ideas for innovation actually come from the faculty members.