For a profession that is constantly bombarded by a continuous flow of reform initiatives like we are in education it’s amazing to me how slowly our wheel of improvement turns. Maybe it’s because we’re constantly trying the next reform effort du jour and we never seem to stick to one effort long enough for it to show significant gains in student achievement. Why are we so ADD about what we focus on? How can we ever see significant and sustainable progress when we keep changing our minds about what we want to do and where we will put our collective and individual energies?
It’s easy to blame policy makers at state and local levels for this schitzo behavior patterns; but truth be told, I have seen this happen equally at the building level, by nervous school house administrators whose worries about student performance immobilize them from having a clear vision for what to do and how to do it.
It’s no wonder that teachers – particularly veteran teachers – who have weathered so many failed initiatives in their tenure become apathetic to the latest idea embraced by zealous administrators.
Then, when an initiative comes along that does have proven merit to really make differences for kids, like building authentic PLCs in school faculties; it is often met with cynicism, skepticism and resistance by otherwise caring faculties. This notion is particularly dear to me; I’ve written an entire book on how to do PLCs well (Corwin press, forthcoming in early 2011).
It’s not that teachers don’t want to improve and be more effective. In my work consulting in schools, I believe nothing could be further from the truth. It’s that the history in many schools of constantly trying out the latest educational fad in half-hearted, short-lived and unsupported ways have created reasonable doubt that the next idea will work or be around long enough to bother personally investing in it. The net results is a continuance of the status quo and a deceleration of the wheel of progress – all at the cost of our students’ education and their future opportunities. dven.
[If you are interested, go to corwin.com in January of 2011 to preorder your copy of Daniel Venables’ book, The Practice of Authentic PLCs: A Guide to Effective Teacher Teams]