Improving practice is at the heart of educational change. Decades of research have shown that what makes a difference in both student learning outcomes and system-level change is an ongoing investment in capacity building on all levels. As this week's contributors will share, improving practice must be approached in a way that promotes personal accountability, sense of belonging and empowerment, and focus on continuous improvement. Top-down, high stakes accountability alone will not get us there.
Why? Because school leaders are most effective when they engage in distributed leadership, where diagnostic and design work is at the center of practice improvement that fits the realities of a given school. Teachers benefit when they have access to on-going high quality professional development experiences, learning communities, mentoring, unstructured space to test new ideas, and work environments where they are encouraged to experiment, design, develop, and refine their practice. Students succeed when they feel a sense of agency over their learning experiences, when they have ongoing support of teachers, peers, families, and community members, and when they have opportunities to take part in education networks that promote relationship-building, academic rigor, and positive personal development.
This week's contributors are: Louise Stoll, a professor at the London Centre for Leadership in Learning within the Institute of Education at the University of London; James Spillane, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change at the Northwestern University; Stephen Anderson, a professor of educational administration at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto; Ann Lieberman, a senior scholar at Stanford University; and Gabriel Cámara, the founder of Mexico City-based Convivencia Educativa (Educational Coexistence) A.C. and Redes de Tutoría S.C. (Mentoring Networks).
As always, we encourage you to join in the conversation by sharing our posts and commenting on the individual contributions.
Helen Janc Malone is the Director of Institutional Advancement at the Institute for Educational Leadership and the editor of the book Leading Educational Change.