And, HOW EXACTLY DOES That Impact Schools?

As I described, Personally I think that when an employee explores what their values of education are collectively, this is a far greater time than what a most our professional development is spent doing. It not only leads to powerful conversations, but teachers leave PD with a restored sense of enthusiasm and vision. Which is most likely 180 degrees from where they usually leave PD.

When it comes to a teacher’s values and a teacher’s actions, which change first? Can you change your activities without changing your values first, or must you go the other way around? And, how exactly does that impact academic institutions? Think about that. Let’s say your school is in a rut. Pretty good per se. Actually, overall they are doing a more than sufficient job. However the region is not moving anywhere; they’re content to do things the way they’ve always been. In the end, it spent some time working in the past. This is not the exception. This is the norm.

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And market leaders at the condition level understand this and say, “We have to move these universities to provide a 21st hundred years education”. And therefore, the Iowa Core is born. But–and here’s the true question–can those statewide market leaders be assured that the Core will in actuality change institutions? For, imagine if educators don’t actually change their beliefs?

What if they address it like the other initiatives du jour that have been handed down? Will there be any true change in actions? The obvious answer is no. Teachers must change their beliefs about education. A mandate by itself might have some temporary change in action, but it shall fade when there is no accompanying change in values. So, the answer is obvious, right? Change the teacher’s values first, and then their activities changes.

Not so fast, says Todd Whitaker. In his What Great Principals Do Differently: 15 Things That Matter Most, he says effective principals know locking minds over beliefs is counter-productive. Effective principals acknowledge that there could be disagreement over beliefs, but you will see an expectation with activities. Or quite simply, “You don’t have to agree with the policy, but you do need to abide by it”.

I actually think Whitaker’s right. Trying to change beliefs first is pollyanish. It isn’t going to occur. But as Whitaker points out, with positive reinforcement and leadership, a teacher who changes activities times does change beliefs often. And if they don’t, the school as a whole doesn’t suffer when the teacher performs the right actions, albeit grudgingly. Unfortunately, I’m not just a my-way-or-the-highway kind of guy. That’s why I like this activity. It creates a safe spot to really explore a teacher’s values, to bring them out into the sea and open what others are thinking, without being straight evaluative of a teacher’s teaching.

I’m trying to think of another way to truly change the teacher’s beliefs, and I’m sketching a blank. There unfortunately was one nagging thought for me, though, and it only became more and more apparent as the data from the 43 consultants in the area came back. To me, for some questions, the answers were obvious. And it was as obvious to the other consultants as well. And yet, we didn’t recognize. The variance was huge.