Systemic change is bringing about change to an entire school network. Using a systemic approach is utilizing everyone. Everyone that is involved with the schools must work together. Schools require a defined purpose and the technical means to produce reform must be identified.
The reform of education is constantly changing. Using a systemic approach recognizes the importance of the teacher. The teacher is the one who hasn’t in the past provided input, but should provide pertinent input in the future. Teachers know what makes the systems work. The most effective form of reform is communication. Teachers must develop an open dialogue in order for their school to improve.
A systemic approach introduced and innovated by a transformative leader would work in a school system that is experiencing poor results. It would work for many reasons: restructuring roles, relationships, and rules are essential, use of “second-order” change, and having a vision for tomorrows’ student. These three types of restructuring would help move the school district in the right direction.
Restructuring is not the same as eliminating. Restructuring is drawing upon observation and data to determine what has worked and what does not. Restructuring the roles of administrators is essential for failing schools. The new appointed faculty member brings not only a new energy but also the experiences he/she had in a different, yet also important, environment. Restructuring the relationships among teachers and students and teachers and administrators is creating healthy dialogue. Communication is the key to any reform. Rules are meant to mean something and must be enforced at all times.
Using a “second-order” change is when a school system looks at the way things have been done the old way and considers doing things in new ways to solve the schools real problems. The old way of trying to improve upon what is being done currently has shown to be ineffective. The vision of the school should be to produce a student who can go into the workplace directly after graduation. Not all students will aspire to attend college. In many inner-city areas, children are not encouraged to attend college by their parents because their parents didn’t attend college and does not understand the value it holds in establishing a career.
Schools need to help minorities that possess no desire to attend college. The young adult of the present is required to be knowledgeable, self-determined, strategic, and empathetic. The world is a tough place and these future workers of America need to be prepared.
A transformative leader is someone that has a vision. This vision is needed to start change. The basis of being a good transformative leader is to establish a foundation. This foundation should be about support. The teachers must know that they are supported. The leader should be willing to listen to everything and will follow through on decisions that are made. The leader will be consistent and will offer opportunities for improvement to everyone. The culture of the school will be collaborative and safe. He/she will foster innovation and ideas and will help solve problems as a group instead of individually. The leader must be “in-touch” with the community. He/she must embrace its police and governmental leaders and show them his/her vision. A transformative leader must show moral authority. Moral authority is telling a person how you feel at that moment, instead of waiting for an issue to grow worse. Additionally, using moral authority makes you seem more human and authentic. To be an effective leader you must make sure that your staff realizes that they are learning with you and beside you. As a team, you are willing to tackle the biggest problems facing the school and address the needs of the school first.
A transformative approach requires a person to be many things. For example, this type of leader must be: knowledgeable of change management, collaborator, team builder, value education, high morals, knowledge of curriculum, strong philosophy, knowledge of community and surrounding environment, and be sensitive to the staff’s needs. If a transformative leader with a vision for the future were able to institute a systemic change, most school systems would start to improve.
Of course, where does the leader start? Someone would need to have the courage of his or her convictions and say that what is being done is “not” working. A systemic change would be to identify the shortcomings and eliminate them. The school system needs to stop blaming the teachers and students and realize that there are many other innovative ways to education.
After reading through The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory “New Leaders for Tomorrows Schools”, I selected the “Success for All” model to use as the basis for this assignment. It is my opinion that the reason why this model is discussed is due to three reasons: it requires cooperative learning, includes family, and focuses on reading in all the content areas. This model incorporates a systemic change in education and requires a transformative leadership style for it to be successful. A principal manages change by making sure that the allocated funding is being used appropriately. A principal needs to make sure that all funding and inventory are clearly documented and used efficiently. If the government feels a school system is wasting money, the first thing that will happen is the money will no longer be made available.
Next year I will be embarking upon a new career in education. I will be leaving the classroom of five years to become a guidance counselor. I will not be leaving the school where I taught Reading, I will only be moving my desk to an office instead of a classroom. As a former Reading teacher I clearly recognized that in inner-city school that are dominated by minorities, it is essential that these students leave junior high school with at least a seventh grade reading level.
The “Success for All” reform model is based upon one primary goal: to ensure that all children learn to read. The reform model was established in 1993 and currently serves over 1,800 schools.
In any educational setting, it is important to embrace cooperation. Cooperation is when teachers work together to help the school succeed. Each student is an important part of the school’s success. When teachers work together a lot of good things can be accomplished. In many schools, there is the distinct difference and alienation between veteran teachers and new teachers. Veteran teachers act as if they know everything and can’t be “taught new tricks”. New teachers attempt new approaches to teaching they have learned somewhere in one of their education classes. New teachers bring with them a new vitalized energy, which helps bring balance to the teaching dynamics within the school. Teachers “need” to work together. If I was a principal and encountered a faculty member who did not want to share ideas or methodologies and could not work well with others than I would suggest to that teacher that he/she leave or think about another career. Learning can be fun when it is presented in a cooperative manner. I feel that this school reform is working and popular because it exists only as a cooperative learning tool that the school, teachers, and most important, the students benefit.
Another benefit to the school reform model is the use of family support. Family support is essential not only in education, but also in life. Studies have shown that students who do well in school have supportive parents. It should be no surprise that students need the support of their family to succeed. At the school where I work, many parents do not take an active role in their child’s education. It is very sad. Many of these students have many skills and abilities. However, without the proper support and motivation, many of these students drop out of school when they reach the age of 16. For these students, education is just a warm meal and a place to go during the morning hours. For these same neglectful parents, education is similar to a free day care. The “Success for All” school reform enlists the aid of parents and family. As a guidance counselor next year, I plan to reach out to these same parents and ask for their help to help “their” children. I know that if I didn’t have the support of my family, I might not be pursuing my doctorate degree.
Another feature of the reform model is the need for students to read in all of the content areas. For example, the content areas usually consist of the four major subjects taught in public schools: Math, Science, Social Studies, and English. The act of reading occurs in every subject. It is the only subject that is used in all of the others. For example, Science is an important subject, yet Science is not always seen in a reading selection. Reading is the most important subject because it is used the most in education. A child that cannot read is like trying to drive cross-country in a car without fuel. The school reform model calls for 90 minute reading periods. It also requires 75 minutes daily in math class. Reading should happen all the time because it is the truest curriculum that will prepare the children for the future. An adult that cannot read does not place himself/herself in any position to obtain and sustain a job. Many years ago a person was able to “get away” without having to read, however, today is very different. Through the use of email and the internet, tomorrow’s worker will “have” to read to survive.
After reading through the different models to select as the basis for this case assignment, I attempted to choose a model I thought would work at my school. The “Success for All”, established in 1993 and authored by Robert Slavin, Nancy Madden, and a team of developers from John Hopkins University, has the best components for a positive reform of education. The systemic model embraces three key elements to education: cooperative learning by everyone, family involvement, and reading in all subjects. This model reminds me of how school must have been in the little red schoolhouses of the past. I can imagine my ancestors sitting in a one-classroom school house reading something written by Mark Twain and running home on dirt roads to home where mother and father would greet them and ask them about their day at school. The closing of this picture is a mother and daughter reading in bed to the light of a candle. The schools of tomorrow will need to go back to move forward. Any effective school has the same components outlined in the reform model: cooperation, family support, and reading.