Ever had one of those days, weeks months… Or years… when you know things need evaluating, changing and shaking up? But you feel powerless to do anything about it? And then one day you are in a position to make some small steps, then bigger ones, only to worry about how any of it will be received by others? So you get scared and slow down, perhaps backing right off? That’s been me over the last year or so. But I think I’m starting to feel braver… I’m hoping it lasts, for the benefit of my students.
Until this year, I could only change what happened in my own classroom up to a point where programmed outcomes and required assessment tasks were a block. Now as a Head of Department I can rework programs and assessments and start a ball of change rolling beyond my own classes. But with that has come fear and doubt.
Earlier this week I read a Tweet from a HOD elsewhere in the world in a similar situation. New to the role, seeing change is needed but facing opposition. Responses from more experienced HODs helped. I agree other staff are less likely to oppose change if they feel trusted and valued and that they have a voice in the change process. I also know that talking about change cannot go on forever, it has to become action and movement forward. I’ve thought again (this one has been something I’ve had to bear in mind for about 9 months now) how important it is to remember we’re working with people and that people intrinsically need something familiar to work with, even in the midst of broader change.
Today as I was contemplating alterations to one of our programs I started to ask myself whether I was expecting too much change and whether staff who had written the program initially would react negatively. Then it hit me – the AITSL Standards – reviewing Standard 3 has reminded me that evaluating and improving goals, programs and teaching strategies is in fact part of my job as a teacher. As a Head of Department it goes a step further – I need to lead and support others to do this. I am feeling empowered and the Standards are supporting me not just in my professional learning, but in my daily practice and reflection.
Change will still not be easy for everyone. Not everyone will agree that it is necessary. But if other areas of the curriculum have moved forward and students are coming to us with improved skills in something, we do our students a disservice if we don’t review our programs, learning goals and expected outcomes. So I think it’s time to take a deep breath and start turning change from a noun into a verb!