Unfortunately, we have a long history of approaching change in schools from the wrong angles. We’ve tried to ‘force’ change to happen through deliberate policy and legislative mandates (think NCLB). We’ve experimented with external motivators (think merit pay). We’ve tried to improve the whole by focusing on growing the parts (think teacher evaluation). Finally, we have countless examples of implementing fragmented strategies.
At ‘face value’ all of the above approaches ‘seem’ like they might lead to the desired changes. Why then are our results so dismal?
Michael Fullan, renowned leadership expert would suggest they are the “Wrong Drivers.” The above approaches focus on external accountability, focus on individual versus group solutions, and tend to be piecemeal initiatives versus an integrated or systemic approach.
He would argue that the right drivers INSPIRE, but more specifically they inspire and engage COLLECTIVELY not individually. They tap into the intrinsic motivation of the people in the profession. It’s about 100% being involved in the systemic improvement process–students, teachers, schools, states etc. It’s about Professional Learning occurring on an ongoing basis not as an event on the calendar.
In short, the right drivers change the ‘culture’ of the system. They motivate people because they can’t imagine not pursuing the excellence.