Thursday, December 17, 2015

How to Spark a Movement in Your School

Making a difference in a school doesn't require a 5-year strategic plan. You can spark a movement right now. When you see a problem, you can do something about it. You can be the catalyst for positive change. And it's outstanding when people from every corner of the school, not just administration, are initiating change.

A couple of months ago, I was drawn into a conversation a few of our teachers were having about getting our high school students more excited about reading. These teachers had joined together to study Book Love, a fantastic read by Penny Kittel. 

They began to share with me their vision for establishing classroom libraries. They wanted students to have more choices for reading, more time for reading, and greater voice to share their reading with others. They were completely energized and nothing could stop them. They had a vision for how a stronger culture of reading in our school could impact students forever.

It was the beginning of a movement. Soon, classroom libraries began to take shape. We started placing orders for new books from a variety of genres. 

Students were surveyed to learn more about their reading habits. Teachers from every content area were recording book talks to share personal reading with students. 

Our librarian even decided to reorganize the entire library collection by genre, all a result of a few extraordinary teachers, a book study, and a vision.

Students were talking about it. Teachers were talking about it. There was a spark.

Not every movement results in lasting change, at least not in a substantial way, but there's always a chance. It really depends on the meaning behind the movement and the commitment of the movement leaders.

So how can you spark a movement in your classroom or school? Follow these 5 easy steps.

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5 Steps to get a movement started in your school

1. Start with empathy. What are you passionate about? What breaks your heart? Empathy isn't content to see a problem and do nothing. Empathy makes us want something better for our students and our school. Dream about what could be.

2. Learn Together. Find at least one other person who shares your concern. Together, become informed, share ideas, plan, discuss. Think of ways the problem could be addressed. What are possible strategies based on the information gathered?

3. Rally support. Reach out beyond the initial group. Bring admin and other teachers on board. But don't stop there. Get students and parents mobilized as well. Have a call to action. Ask, "Will you help us?" Be ready to suggest ways your new converts can help. Listen carefully to new ideas that might be brought forward too.

4. Turn energy to action. Now it's time to follow through on the great ideas. Encourage the troops. Get moving. Communicate clearly who is doing what. Set timelines for reaching goals. Give more encouragement. 

5. Celebrate. When something great happens with your movement, let people know about it. Make it visible. For the movement to continue to grow and become lasting change, you have to help people stay energized.

Question: What movement will you start at your school? What needs to be change? Leave a comment below. Or share your ideas on Twitter or Facebook.

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