The phrase, “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission” is something I’ve heard many people say. I’ve also heard folk say that “you catch more flies with honey”. So in that spirit, in trying to help bring about positive changes in your school; sometimes (like Dave Stacey says in relation to CPD) you need a guerrilla approach to things.
Whilst you should always mitigate against risk following the rules of health and safety; taking measured risks that have a firm base in pedagogy and research that will have a positive effect on learning or help develop a positive culture or ethos in a community should always be considered.
Use student voice – who better than to support your ideas for change or to give you ideas for change than your students? Ask your students how you’re doing. What is going well. What is your EBI (even better if…?) as their teacher, for your department, for your school. Then after you’ve collected in the information, share it. MAKE IT PUBLIC! Create a wall display. You said. We did. Share with your community what you did about their comments. The involvement of others in constructing your curriculum and its benefits are well exemplified here by Tom Sherrington:-
Start things from the ground up – be the agent for change. I knew when I first started a Twitter account with my A level students it was a little bit risky, but I’d done my research – it was 2010 after all and Twitter had been around for four years and there was already plenty of evidence (anecdotal to be fair, not peer reviewed and doctoral in nature, but very interesting nonetheless) of the sort of impacts on learning we could see. Live tweeting, sharing messages, learning opportunities and links to resources shared. It was a success. Students were engaged and empowered. Had I asked permission? No. From the (albeit not planned in this way) action research I had completed I was able to share the impact and whole school try singing then took place. 3 years on now from that time there’s a thriving Twitter community, whole school account, department accounts and much more besides.
Do it to make a difference – I’d been to a TeachMeet. Sally Thorne @mrsthorne had organised one at the Grange school near Bristol along with the support of Clare Fenwick @csf0961 and her team at Vital. I was hooked. I wanted this kind of sharing model a bit closer to home. Not just for me, but for others in my community and school too. With some assistance with a wiki page TeachMeet Clevedon was born. I booked a room. Said what it was for and got on with it. Jim Smith @thelazyteacher one of the AHT’s attended and we were away with pushing it forward.
Don’t just do it by yourself – form a little action research group and trial the things you’d like to do in a pair or triad or more! Share your collective findings. Blog. Tweet. Tumblr. Take photographs. Gather student voice and evidence on whether you’ve been successful. Create a grassroots movement for positive change.
Student leaders – no post of mine on positive change would be complete without reference to the power of student leadership. In my previous role, digital leaders provided transformational positive change and so I understand, continue to do so. Whether it’s display designers, literacy leaders, digital directors, art ambassadors, musical massive or mega monitors…. Engage with student leadership. For more on student digital leadership, connect with @shelibb, Digital Leader Network #dlchat and @gr8ict.
Stick with it – ok… I know this is six but it’s worth saying… it’s difficult sometimes. Just like the trolls on Twitter who want to pick holes in everything but don’t actually bring anything constructive to the party, you’ll find these in the work place too; beware the staffroom trolls. If you want to share your ideas or check them with colleagues where you might find better ears, try the dinner hall. Look for staff running extra clubs or going the extra mile. These are the colleagues you will find solace and fellowship with.
Stick with it.
These posts are just an attempt to reflect upon some things I’m trying to fix in my mind and focus in on. Hope you find them of use. I take no responsibility for what you may go away and do with your brilliant ideas.