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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hook, Pressure and Support: How to Help Teachers

The term "pressure and support" is seen as a leadership strategy and mantra for improving teaching practice and developing educational capacity. By applying pressure to teachers in a way that promotes change or development, there is a greater chance that this will take place. The support part of the process is to ensure that teachers feel like they are being helped on their pathway to 'betterment' and not simply thrown in the deep end to fend for themselves. I think, though, the "hook" is critical in beginning this process.

If teachers feel the pressure to change and develop, regardless of how much support they receive, they are experiencing the push from an external place (whether it be an administrator, coach, superintendent, board policy). Effective leaders need to find a way to 'hook' them into desiring the change. Teachers need to feel like they are driving the actions that will make them a more informed and effective educational influence.

Often, a carefully-crafted model or exemplar of something that is desirous and whose potential to transform pedagogy is evident is a good place to begin. It is typically when we experience something that we can envision ourselves performing it too. This is a stark contrast to an approach that begins with a memo and leads to expected participation.

If you want teachers to try new things - show them how great those new things can be. Don't expect them to take risks - if you, yourself, are unwilling to do so. Some of the greatest movements, indeed, begin with a simple idea, but it is through purposeful and powerful steps that these things drive action and inspire longevity.

We all want to be successful. If your comfort zone is exactly where you left it, eventually you will watch others find destinations that you have not dared to visit yourself. The process can be scary. The commitment can initially be daunting. The payoff, though, will be clear. Your students and colleagues will watch a transformation take place that breathes new life in your words and casts bold shadows on your movements. Your teaching will be born anew.

Whether it be incorporating more technology in your practice or co-teaching with a grade partner - change can be a wonderful thing to those who dare to try. Without it, we all become footnotes to our original dreams of educating others.


Anonymous said...

Hey Fin Man,
The use of technology is a wondrous thing. Thanks for the helpful lead into the future.

nfinney said...

Wondrous things are only as useful as the people who use them. The fact that you are willing to start on this journey is a testament to both character and commitment.

Thanks for giving me a forum for these ideas, "Anonymous."

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