School leaders can gain buy-in by trying something they don't already know
- Jason Green, the co-founder of Learning Innovation Catalyst (LINC), writes for EdSurge that school leaders wanting to build a sense of awareness, growth and shared reflection in their communities should make a public commitment to learn to do something they don't already know how to do.
- Doing this can also allow staff members to see their leader as vulnerable and build buy-in when it comes to trying new and innovative approaches to education, Green writes.
- Leaders undertaking this effort should also publicly share status updates to document their progress, celebrate the attempt regardless of success, and invite teachers to share the experience.
Despite all of the encouragement from policymakers and administrators, innovating in the classroom can often seem like a daunting task. Top-down mandates around standardized testing and the high-stakes attached to them in relation to the evaluation of both teachers and schools, for example, can discourage trying anything all that different for fear of failure and consequences like school closure or firing. What administrators often understand that policymakers don't, however, is that teachers are perhaps K-12's greatest untapped innovation engines, and that the most effective change often comes from those who are actually in the classroom and know what will or won't work with students.
As a result, administrators can reap significant benefits and gain trust by showing the teachers in their schools that they're willing to take risks if there's the promise of better preparing students for the future. Among the best examples of this is when a former Minnesota superintendent, Lisa Snyder, empowered two educators to try an entirely new approach that organized students in "vertical, K-5 communities." These efforts, especially if successful, can serve administrators well later on when it comes to advocating to policymakers for changes that might favor more freedom to innovate.
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