A colleague and I had a conversation the other day about my previous trickle down prescription statement regarding the needed change in our educational system. He challenged me with a question similar to: Do you think the systemic change should come from the bottom up instead of the top down? Yes. No. Maybe. Both. I went through all of those answers in about 5.5 seconds (my brain is trying to stay on top of the front load of information I’ve been blessed with recently). I’ve settled on the answer: both.
I compromised on a “meet-in-the-middle” model. A grassroots movement of self-motivated teachers curbing the focus from low-level thinking with teacher-led classroom to high-level thinking where students are the center sounds fantastic…however, teachers need comparable support to what we want our students to receive. The movement of project-based learning, passion projects, maker spaces, STEM/STEAM, etc. have a facilitator/coach (teacher) hanging back supporting the learning by providing resources, spaces, materials, guiding questions, and criteria for success. Leadership on all levels needs to work hand in hand. This reminds me of my previous school’s motto: Working Together, Achieving Success. Yes to lots more teacher autonomy but also yes to positive, meaningful leadership. Teachers will feel supported to do the right work the right way.