Change: Consider Impacts, Communicate Facts, and Collaborate On Next Steps.
Change is _____________. How would you complete that statement? “hard, exciting, good, a way of life, …” How individuals complete the statement may be dependent on their current situation, or perhaps it could be a reflection of their overall attitude. Whether one views change as exciting or unsettling, there is one thing that we do know, change is inevitable. Change can be complicated. When change occurs, questions multiply: When did that happen? I didn’t know that… What is this all about? Who decided that? Why are they considering that…? To successfully navigate change, it is crucial to consider the impact of change, to communicate facts, and to collaborate on next steps.
Progress is not possible without change. Consider the impact of technology in farming. The precision planting that results from tractors equipped with GPS guidance and soil monitoring leads to more than straighter rows. Farmers who have accepted these changes in practice have experienced increased accuracy in seed placement, improved application of fertilizer and thus, greater yields. This change required a shift in beliefs that the former planting practices were still best practice. That is not to say that former practices are bad practice, there are simply new and improved practices. Individuals, businesses, and communities that continue to grow are willing to research the impacts of making specific changes, communicate concerns and desires, and brainstorm plans that will yield desired results. Economic development, by the best definition, includes processes and outcomes that reduce inequality.
I have always considered a child’s education to be like a three-legged stool. Parents, teachers, and students are the legs. With one of the legs missing, the stool will tip. A recent conversation with a parent and child revealed that the child had been frustrated with other students’ bullying behavior. Having no previous knowledge of this specific concern, I inquired what the bullying actions were and for how long they had been occurring. The child shared some scenarios and indicated that it had been going on for a while. I inquired as to why the concern had gone so long unreported. The response was that the child didn’t want to snitch/tattle. This was a scenario for which change was desired but, having not received any communication of the problem, it had gone unaddressed. Once communicated to school staff, the student and parent/ parents are able to brainstorm and collaborate with the school on the next steps. It is imperative to communicate concerns in order for change to occur. We don’t know what we don’t know.
Changes in educational practice and offerings are always under review. Our school has undergone some visible and significant structural changes in the last several years in order to better accommodate the educational needs of our students. Prior to those major changes, informational meetings were held to obtain insight and collaborate on what changes best contribute to meeting the needs of the masses. Many area schools are in the process of moving toward Standards Based Grading (SBG) systems. Renville County West has participated for over two years in learning opportunities related to SBG. With a goal of providing more meaningful feedback to students and parents, we have moved to a full standards-based grading format for all elementary grades. Teachers will provide information about how feedback and grading will occur in their classrooms. As in any implementation of new practices, there have been and will remain some wrinkles to iron out. We value your feedback that specifies what some of those wrinkles are, and suggestions on how we can continue to make improvements. Addressing change is best when a team approach is used.
With change, questions abound. With change, opportunities abound.