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4 ideas to drive academic improvement

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

The start of a year is a fantastic time for reflection on your vision and what you need to do to bring your vision to life.

As a principal who strive to lead a positive change within your community, you probably want to:

  • Develop strong relationships

  • Increase engagement

  • Create a learning environment at the highest level possible

  • Inspire others to expand their capacity and be their best

  • Be a supportive and encouraging principal

You have probably set one or more of the above goals last year and never fully achieved it.

You may have come close to achieving your goals but didn't quite get to where you wanted to be, or at some point, you realised that achieving your vision would be much more challenging than you expected.

Whatever your results, I believe your “failure” to achieve these outcomes is not about you not being talented enough, hard-working enough, or driven enough to complete your goals.

Your failure started with using the same old way of thinking and the same mechanisms to try and drive the change you want to see.

If getting the results you want is important, adopting the below 4 concepts will get you there.

Concept #1 - Improvement is impossible without change.

Albert Einstein worded it perfectly when he said you couldn’t do the same thing over and

over and expect different results.

To get different results, you need to do things differently.

You need to change.

But change is hard. We resist it. We fear it. So, we avoid it.

But if you want to progress in your school, if you are genuinely committed to this goal, you need to adopt a different way of thinking. You need to open your mind to the new, take risks, try different things, be willing to fail, learn from these experiences and improve.

It is the same message you convey to your students - learning is about taking risks, trying, failing, and improving.

Concept #2 - Traditional professional developments don’t provide a meaningful change.

They can’t drive the change you want to see at your school.

They can’t help you achieve the improvement to academic results across your whole school.

There are many research papers on why traditional PD doesn’t work.

The main reasons they highlight as to why traditional professional development is ineffective are:

1. Traditional PD treats teachers as passive learners –

Lecture-based type workshops don’t work well for anyone.

These PDs mainly provide generic theoretical material and don’t provide opportunities for participants to learn skills or strategies by actively trying them out in their classroom.

2. Traditional PDs are too broad and don't go deep-

PDs should “go deep” and provide specific learning on applying knowledge and new skills rather than covering many generalised topics. The time spent on deep understanding is what produces meaningful results.

3. Traditional PDs don’t provide ongoing support-

Implementing new teaching methods in the classroom depends on the guidance and support available during this crucial transition.

Traditional PDs don't provide support when it is most needed.

4. Traditional PDs don’t provide reflection time –

No time and space are provided for teachers to critically reflect on their practice and how they can adapt the new pedagogy to their classrooms.

Therefore, it is time to stop throwing your money away on traditional PDs. Instead, invest your school’s scarce resources in the type of professional development that will create a sustainable and meaningful change at your school. On a professional development that allows your teachers to become the best they can be.

Concept #3 - A sustainable change in your school requires a whole-school transformation.

The way to achieve consistent excellence in learning and teaching across all year levels is by having a program that takes all your teachers on the same journey.

A study performed by Mireille Hubers on paving the way to sustainable educational change reached the same conclusion.

Achieving progress at your school can’t be limited to a couple of teachers. No matter how enthusiastic they are.

To achieve the desired outcomes at your school, all your teachers need to change their thinking and behaviour.

It requires a program that allows all your teachers to take the same journey and achieve the desired transformation to their way of teaching.

Concept #4 - Achieving academic excellence is made possible by breaking free from “this is the way things are done around here” and adopting new ways of thinking.

Do you consider yourself an innovative principal?

You know that the key to innovation is challenging the status quo if you are.

Driving innovation is not always easy. However, without challenging norms and fighting for what you believe is possible, you will never get to experience something better.

So if you feel you are prepared to challenge your own decisions and beliefs for the benefit of your school, you are ready to begin the journey toward innovation.

Organisations that challenge the status quo and do things in a new way reap the benefits. There are many examples of such organisations. From Uber, Airbnb, M3, Tesla to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

And at your school, when you challenge the status quo, it means you and your team can find new ways to meet the needs of your teachers, students and families despite the norms and the ways things have always been done.

It means your school can transform its way of teaching and learning and adopt a new and innovative pedagogy.

It can mean a paradigm shift for your whole community.

That’s right. Your school can adopt an innovative way of learning.

A new framework to achieve the best learning environment at your school. This framework uplifts your teacher’s capabilities and helps your teachers and students become the best they can be.

To learn more about this innovative framework, click here

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