Creating a Culture Change in Your District

To keep up with the pace of change in the learning space, school districts must be able to constantly adapt – recognizing and implementing new ways of teaching and learning, identifying the latest educational technologies and continually modifying existing strategies. Not doing so is a disservice to students who will miss out on opportunities to improve how they learn, and an affront to their parents who expect their children to receive the best education possible. Yet, many school districts face a similar challenge – determining how best to introduce a culture change and drive widespread adoption of a new tool or methodology.

Of course, executing any large-scale change across multiple schools and the entire educator population within a district is not easy. But the end result – improving how students learn and grow – should take precedence over any fears or bumps in the road. Moreover, it shouldn’t be left to district administrators and educators alone. Achieving a culture change requires the input and support of students, parents and the community as a whole.

The first step toward creating a culture change should be to identify what needs to improve. Are standardized test scores lower than desired? Is there poor morale among faculty and staff? A lack of parental involvement? Understanding the most pressing problems facing the district is key to taking the necessary steps toward improvement; just as important is getting others on board. Once that root of the problem is found, and brought out in the open, it will be easier to convince others of the need for change and get their support.

Next, it’s necessary to determine what can be done to address the issue. If the district wants to boost morale of its faculty, consider providing additional training and development. Participating in online professional development programs or attending events such as the Future of Education Technology Conference, taking place January 24 – 27, 2017 in Orlando. Not only will this give educators fresh ideas and strategies for teaching, but their newfound enthusiasm will transfer to the classroom as well. At the same time, if the district wants to improve standardized test scores, it can consider how new education technology solutions can enhance the learning process and help students learn both inside and outside the classroom.

Once a solution is identified, it will be important to get buy-in for its adoption. Be sure to make the case in a way that clearly highlights the problem, why it is so important to fix and what will happen if nothing is changed. Just as crucial is to explain the expected results of the initiative (i.e., how much you expect test scores to improve). It’s one thing to point out a problem, but by showing the positive outcomes of taking action, it will be easier for others to agree. The result will be a domino effect, leading to more support for the initiative, eagerness to see it through and, eventually, a real culture change.

But for any change to take place, strong advocates are essential. The good news is that anyone – faculty, staff or parent – can be the voice their district needs to drive real improvement.

Are there opportunities in your district to adopt new, transformative technologies? Can educators benefit from additional training and professional development? What are the emerging strategies that could enhance the learning experience? Positive transformation starts with recognizing a problem, finding a solution and being the catalyst for culture change.

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