A new study from researchers Christopher Redding of the University of Florida and Samantha L. Viano of George Mason University finds teachers are more likely to embrace and implement changes if they are a part of creating them, Chalkbeat reports.
The study found that teachers who have gone through a lot of “fad” programs were less likely to be enthusiastic about any new major initiatives, but grassroots changes and those that involved teachers from the ground floor had more buy-in and were more likely to reflect the needs of that school.
Additionally, when the new initiatives reflected teachers’ existing practices, they were more likely to build on them. Another related study, not yet released but referenced in the article, found that students showed modest improvements when such initiatives were launched, and that this may be due to consistency in the school.
Most teachers enter the profession because they love to teach and help students grow. Allowing them to build upon their passion will lead to innovation that will ultimately benefit students. Examples of teacher-led innovation include a living museum for Black History Month and an “Ed Obstacles” game, which is an educational take on the TV show American Ninja Warrior.
Innovative, passionate teachers may become disillusioned with the school district if their efforts to make changes seem impossible under the current system. For example, teachers at Orchard Lake Elementary in Lakeville, Minn., initially felt they needed to launch their own charter school to realize their dream of creating classrooms with more personalized learning. Rather than shunning them, however, their superintendent worked with them to make their vision a reality.
Inspired teachers create strong schools, and it is up to school and district administrators to nurture that passion. Incorporating teachers in the process of coming up with school-specific goals and initiatives, and then having them work with their building leaders and peers to implement them, creates broader acceptance through ownership of those changes. The consistency resulting from that greater buy-in is ultimately more likely to pay dividends in student outcomes.