Vahepeatus - The Meaning of Educational Change.
"Change really isn't as hard as we thought if we capture people's interest and give them
enjoyable worthwhile experiences."
- Michael Fullan
Tere armsad lugejad,
Tervitan Teid siis juba kodumaalt ja nagu lubatud sai, siis vahepeal ikka kirjutan. Muidu ei saa :) Nii nagu oma eelnevas postituses ka kirjutasin, siis olemine siin võib kujuneda emotsionaalseks ja omaltpoolt võivad lisada ka vürtsi erinevad väljakutsed. Täpselt nii on ka olnud :) Kõigepealt pidin inglite sekka saatma oma kõige truuma sõbra - Stella, kes oli ustav ja armas sõber lausa neliteist aastat. Tingimusteta armastus, millel ei olnud piire. Minu isiklik turvamees, kes mind alati ootas ja siiralt seda ka väljendas. Minu üks lemmik lauseid vist läbi aegade olnud, et "selline see elu juba kord on." Millesse on segatud nii rõõmu kui kurbust, ootamatusi ja väljakutseid. Ühte ma tean, et selles loos lahkus mu truu sõber teadmisega, et sai siin elus suurepäraselt hakkama, olles tubli valvur ja parim sõber, pakkudes turvatunnet kui armastust. Kui siit edasi liikuda, siis olen väga vaikselt püüdnud sisse elada, olles kõrvalvaataja rollis, milles tunnen end üsna mugavalt, kuid mis aeg-ajalt siiski ka hoope saab. Kuna mul on siiski ka missioon täitmisel, siis oli au vahepeal osaleda kahel erineval koolitusel. Esimeseks oli "Mindfulnessi kasutamine töökohal ja juhtimisel" (Chris Tamdjidi juhtimisel) ning teiseks oli "Unleashing Workplace Innovation in Estonia" (EAS-i eestvedamisel). Isiklikult mõlemad pakkusid mulle seda, mida olin oodanud ja sain ülevaate ka Eestis toimuval. Ühiseks võtmesõnaks tooksin välja muutused. Oleme muutuste keerises nii isiklikus arengus kui laiemalt. Inimesed otsivad "vahendeid", et ellu jääda. Suund on ju tegelikult õige. Kes vähegi on minu postitustega kursis, siis olen üsna tihti rõhutanud sõnapaari "inimese väärtustamine". Pedagoogikas on ütlemised, et "iga laps on indiviid ning eriline", samuti " et lapse arenguks on oluline positiivne kasvukeskkond." Nii, tundub loogiline eks. Kuidas me siis unustame, et sama kehtib ka täiskasvanutega? Miks ühel ilusal hetkel saab nendest ütlemistest vaid loganid, millel puudub reaalne sisu? Iga õpetaja teab, et laps, kes on motiveeritud ja positiivne ületab ka kõige raskemaid väljakutseid. Ta tunneb end turvaliselt ning hoitud. Täpselt sama kehtib ka inimestega töökeskkonnas ja üldiselt ühiskonnas. Inimene on väärtus, mitte koorem, keda tuleb pidevalt maha suruda ja näidata näpuga, mida jälle on valesti tehtud. Miks olen ma kirjutanud aastaid oma blogi? 1) et minu kirjakeel säiliks, 2) näidata, et olles väljaspool kodumaad ei ole rohi rohelisem, päike kollasem ning taevas sinisem, 3) motiveerida inimesi võtma vastu erinevaid väljakutseid. Oluline on siinkohal punkt 2. Koolitustel kõlas läbi lause, et kui koolitada ja hoida inimest siin, siis ühel hetkel läheb ta nagunii ära ja leiab parema võimaluse väljaspool. Nonii, jumala õige! Tubli inimene, kes nii teeb! Kogemusi peabki saama, arenema samuti, et ühel hetkel neid jagada. Paraku tööandjad unustavad ühe imepisikese teguri. See inimene ühel hetkel avastab end täpselt samast rollist, mida olen Teile kirjeldanud mina - olles välisvaatleja, sest kuulumine antud keskkonnas on keeruline. Mis tähendab, et ühel hetkel on ootamas ees otsused - kas naasta/ jääda/või liikuda edasi. Kui palju olen ma kuulnud lauset" kui mul ei oleks nii negatiivseid kogemusi Eestis, siis ma läheksin tagasi." Keerame nüüd lause teistpidi : "Positiivsete kogemuste pärast soovin ma naasta tagasi kodumaale" Kas mitte viimane variant ei kõla paremini? Miks ei võiks me motiveerida ja hoida inimesi ja nähes neis tugevusi ja positiivset? Tundub jube naiivne eksole, kuid täiesti tehtav! Ja kõige lahedam on, et sellel on ka reaalne tulemus. Inimene on rõõmsam ja tal on soov anda endast parim (muideks siinkohal peab mainima, et see on isegi teaduslikult tõestatud, et päris taevast ma seda ei võta :)) Positiivne töökeskkond on mulle isiklikult südamelähedane teema, sest see oli üks põhjustest, miks võtsin otsuse edasi liikuda. Jagan Teiega ka ühte minu arvates parimat esitlust teemal "The Happy Secret to Better Work" (by Shawn Achor.)
Nüüd aasta hiljem võtsin julguse kokku jagada ka Teiega oma kogemust, mida olen juba eelnevalt esitlenud ülikoolis, mis tegelikult juba sellel ajal sai tagasisidet, et ehk peaksin selle saatma Eestisse ja seda jagama. Kuid ma ei olnud selleks veel valmis. Nüüd usun, et on õige aeg ja ehk keegi leiab siiski siit midagi, mis aitab muutuste protsessi toetada ja inimsõbralikumaks seda muuta. Ühtlasi panen südamele, et sellesse suhtuda neutraalselt (meile on siin oskus võtta kõike üsna isiklikul tasandil, mida antud juhtul ei pea kohaseks) ja pigem võtta endaga kaasa see, kuidas muutust viia läbi toetavalt. Ühel ilusal päeval ma loodan, et haridusvaldkonna inimesed ja ettevõtjad teevad tihedat koostööd, sest siin on palju sarnasusi, kus on võimalik koostööd teha ja erinevaid meetodeid kasutada/jagada, et luua positiivne keskkond, kus inimene tunneb end turvaliselt, hoitud ning on sealjuures motiveeritud ning rõõmus. Nii siis ongi :) Mina jätkan nüüd lastelaagritega ja püüan omaltpoolt pakkuda positiivseid ja toetavaid hetki, eelkõige nähes tugevusi, kuid samal ajal arendada nõrgemaid külgi. Lootes siiralt, et kui need pisikesed inimesed suureks kasvavad, siis tunnevad nad end tervete ja väärutuslike ühiskonnaliikmetena.
Päikest Teile soovides :)
Alati Teie Jane ( Naiivitar, Idealist ja Optimist ühes isiksuses :))
NB: Reaalsusega koostööd tehes! :)
Meaning of Educational Change.
Jane Peets (May 2015)
The fast changes and increased complexity of 21st century present new challenges and put new demands on our education system. There has been generally a growing awareness of the necessity to change and improve the preparation of students for productive functioning in the continually changing and highly demanding world. The global society requires educated citizens who can learn continuously, and who can work with diversity, locally and internationally. Schools have a pressure to be innovative and this leads to different changes, which may be success or failure.
In this paper I want to answer to my question - what is the meaning of educational change? The paper is divided into three main parts. First part provides my personal experience about educational change. Part 2 covers the process of change and part 3 concludes the meaning of educational change.
Part 1 - Educational change and my own experience.
My interest in the topic is coming from my own experiences during the change process. First I need to introduce myself - from 2008 I am pursuing my studies as a Master of Arts in Education specialized in Primary School Teacher program at Institute of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University, Estonia. For my second major, I chose to become a teacher for special needs children.I have interesting study background and experience in education field, which mainly includes practical visits as a teacher, training and learning courses in different countries and cultures ( ex. Estonia, Finland, South - Korea, Japan, India, United Arab Emirates etc.) From the year 2014 I am, a part of International Master’s programme in Education and Globalisation (EdGlo) at University of Oulu. In my way I have had different opportunities to be part of educational changes, and I chose one of the most special one, which I would like to share with you.
Let´s go back to year 2011, when Estonian Ministry of Education established a new National Curricula for basic schools. The core of the national curriculum introduced in 2011 consists of seven overall competences that are to be cultivated during the study process. The following competencies are: value, social, self-management, learning to learn, communication, mathematics and entrepreneurship competence ( see more in National Curricula 2011, https://www.hm.ee/en/national-curricula). At that time I was a student in Tallinn University where my studies followed the previous national curriculum. With the new curriculum I had to learn everything from the beginning, and from professors who did not have clear understanding about it. Theory was excellent, but how to put it in practice, was questionable. The new national curriculum purpose was to give more importance to achieving the goals, competencies and subject integration set in the curriculum. The study load has been reduced, the learning outcomes have been expressed more clearly and there is more freedom of choice for the students. Sounds great, isn't it?
Beginning of school year 2014, I had an opportunity to work in one of the “best” schools in Estonia. It is the oldest English Language immersion school in Estonia, also they received the status of the IB World School in May 2009 as the first municipal school in Estonia, but they have only the right to provide education on secondary level according to the curriculum of IB Diploma Programme (IB DP). The implementation of the programme started in September 2009. Since May 2012 the school has been the candidate school of IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP).
I was chosen to be a PYP (IB Primary Years Programme) teacher for multicultural classroom, where classroom language was English and the second language was Estonian. It is important to mention that that studies conducted in two branches: 1) the national branch that follows the school curriculum where the working language is Estonian (named RIK) and 2) the international branch that follows the International Baccalaureate curriculum (1) PYP (Primary Years Programme) 2) DP (Diploma Programme)). IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) is in the development stage at the moment.
I was really excited and I looked forward to meet my students. At that time, I did not know so much about PYP programme, I had theoretical understanding about the new Estonian National Curricula and learning & teaching experiences with multicultural students from abroad, but not more. PYP coordinator gave me an introduction book what I had to read before my start and also she organized me PYP teacher training in Vienna. I wished to find answers to my main questions:
1) What is the PYP programme about?
The PYP was developed through the vision and effort, sustained over ten years, of the former International Schools Curriculum Project (ISCP). It was introduced in 1997. The International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme (PYP) is a curriculum framework designed for students aged 3 to 12. It prepares students for the intellectual challenges of further education and their future careers, focusing on the development of the whole child as an inquirer, both in the classroom and in the world outside.
2) How it works?
PYP is underpinned by six transdisciplinary themes around which learning is planned.
- Who we are.
- Where we are in place and time.
- How we express ourselves.
- How the world works.
- How we organize ourselves.
- Sharing the planet.
These themes are selected for their relevance to the real world. They are described as transdisciplinary because they focus on issues that go across subject areas. The transdisciplinary themes help teachers to develop a programme of inquiry. Teachers work together to develop investigations into important ideas, which require a substantial and high level of involvement on the part of students.
3) Are there any specific processes for PYP programme?
It is important to remind that this school was in during a PYP candidate phase at that time, which means that they started trial implementation of the programme that will last no less than one academic year and will take the actions necessary to address the IB requirements for authorization. To be eligible to implement the PYP, schools must:
- have at least two consecutive grades/years
- appoint a PYP coordinator to lead the programme and communicate with the IB
- commit to the mandatory professional development of PYP teachers
- ensure that the student experience is continuous, with students moving from one programme to the next without any gap, in cases where a school chooses to offer other IB programmes consecutively with the PYP.
Through the application for authorization: Primary Years Programme (PYP) requires documents, which show that the school has:
• understood the IB philosophy
• understood the PYP programme requirements
• met the major objectives of its action plan to ensure successful implementation
• concluded that it meets the requirements to become an IB World School ( see more http://ibo.org/globalassets/publications/become-an-ib-school/pypguidetoschoolauthorization.pdf)
To my surprise this school was already been two academic years in the candidate phase, and the decision to teach a PYP programme was denied, because the school did not meet the PYP programme requirements. Some more changes and improvements had to be implemented before authorization. At that time I did not understand the hidden reasons, everything seemed to function well. I analyse these reasons in the next part - overview of the change process.
Part 2 - Overview of the change process.
“Change is a process, not an event.”
According to Fullan (2001) most researchers now see three broad phases to the change process. Phase 1 - variously labeled initiation, mobilization, or adoption - consists of the process that leads up to and includes a decision to adopt or proceed with a change. Phase 2 - implementation or initial use involves the first experiences of attempting to put an idea or reform into practice. Phase 3 - called continuation, incorporation, routinization, or institutionalization - refers to whether the changes gets built in as an ongoing part of the system or disappears by way of a decision to discard or through attrition. This figure presents the general image of a much more detailed process.
3.1 Factors affecting initiation.
Initiation is the process leading up to and including the decision to proceed with implementation ( Fullan, 2001, p. 53). There are countless variables which all influence whether a change program is started or not. Fullan (2001) points out from his book “The New Meaning of Educational Change” eight main sources, which are affecting initiation.
I connect these sources with my experience as a PYP teacher in this school, where I had 22 young learners from different countries who were ready to explore the magical world of learning, and I truly wished to give my best and discover together. I was in the initiation process, where all Fullan (2001) eight factors were there, but not all of them were in a supportive way. Challenges what I faced:
- Quality of innovation - I discovered that the most important is to fill all the papers in a correct way, because the main purpose was to achieve the granted decision on authorization. Quality was questionable, because teachers did not have clear understanding of the change. And I had to work together with a parallel class, whose classroom language was Estonian and all students were Estonians ( 36 students were selected from 300 students). Also school did not provide any support system for multicultural students. The school had always been oriented to high achievements, and they had advantage to select the best students to their school. BUT the PYP program was accessible to everyone, because it was important to have multicultural students.
- Access to innovation - I had an online access to the IB curriculum centre (OCC), but I did not know how to use it. The only person from the school management who knew about the programme was PYP coordinator, who also worked as a class teacher. This meant that the access was limited.
- Advocacy from Central Admission - unfortunately central admission put all responsibility to Primary School level, because they lack of time, interest and understanding.
- External change agents - I heard about them, but I never saw them.
- Community pressure/support/apathy - unfortunately parents were lacking information about the program and about the change process, and because of that they did not meet clear understanding of the programme outcomes. But I am very thankful for the parent involvement, what we created inside the classroom.
- New policy - as a teacher I also had to follow Estonian National Curricula, and I had to combine it with the PYP curriculum. Unfortunately no one knew how to do it.
- Problem-solving and bureaucratic orientations - as I mentioned before, very often it seemed that paperwork was more important than what is happening in the classroom.
In the conclusion I can say that I have never felt so lost, confused and alone. I had high expectations even if I knew that reality may be something different, I truly believed that finally I have found a school in Estonia, who have knowledge, practical experience and resources to support 21st century learners. Unfortunately it wasn't like this.
I would like to express my feelings by quoting the psychiatrist Ronald Laing, who captures succinctly this kind of situation:
There is something I do not know
that I am supposed to know.
I don´t know what it is I don't know,
and yet am supposed to know,
And I feel I look stupid
if I seem both not to know it
and not know what it is I don't know.
Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve - wracking since I don´t
know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore, I pretend I know everything.
R.D.Laing, Knots (1970).
Lets see what happened next - in the implementation process.
3.2 Key factors in the implementation process.
“When schools establish “professional learning communities” teachers constantly search for new ways of making improvements. ( Fullan, 2001,p.60).
In the figure there are nine critical interactive factors affecting implementation which are organized into three main categories relating to 1) the characteristic of the innovation or change project, 2) local roles, and 3) external factors ( Fullan, 2001).
In the implementation period these characteristics becomes much more visible. I start with the need, clarity, complexity, and quality. In my experience I can say that need was there, but it was without a careful examination of whether or not this change addresses the priority needs. Unfortunately not all teachers understood the the need in the same way, and it created conflicts. Especially between PYP and RIK classroom teachers. Because of that I felt that school environment was not friendly, collaborative and supportive.We were oriented of achievement results, skills, and attitudes, and forgot of students as participants in a process of change.
Second characteristic is clarity, which was a big problem in this changing process as well. I found very clear as to what it means in practice and how to achieve the outcomes from the programme, but for me was unclear how does the school supports me through this entire process ( materials/resources, access to technology, information, challenges in the classroom, further training etc.)
On the positive side I can say that complexity during the implementation process raised my own responsibility for implementing the PYP program. I agree with Fullan (2001), who says: “complex changes promise to accomplish more … but they also demand more effort, and failure takes a greater toll.” I truly respected the quality and practicality of the PYP program and because of that it was important to give my best, but unfortunately it wasn't collective behavior.
The main disappointment came from the local characteristics, especially from the school principal role. Sammons (1999) says that “almost every single study of school effectiveness has shown both primary and secondary leadership to be a key factor.” Principal leadership is one of the most important factors during the educational change. In my case our principal was lacking clear information or interest about the program and about the actions of the work what we ( teachers) had done. His main saying was always that “our school do not have money.” We were missing an effective leader, who is creating energy and productive improvement environment.
These factors affect strongly process of continuation, which therefore impacted my decision to quit my job, what I truly loved. With me several other teachers quit as well.
3.3 Factors affecting continuation.
Continuation represents another adoption decision, which may be negative, and even if it is positive it may not get implemented.
- Lack of interest and lack of money for professional development
- Lack of staff support
- Lack of interest and support at the central district office
In my case it is negative, but the change is still implemented, but through the saying that: “It's not the quality, but the quantity that matters.” I felt that everything else matters more than our students well - being and supportive learning environment.
Conclusion - what could done differently?
My experience has a negative ending, but now when I look back it was right thing to do. Negative experience about educational change in this institution gave me strength to move on and find a way how I can make a positive difference by myself.
Concluding my experience I need to add that my classroom won a national prize for the best creative activity in the classroom (“Happy Students 2014”). I can say that I was successful teacher for supporting educational change inside the classroom, because I truly found the PYP program to be an effective way to support 21st century learners, but it was not enough. I share seven “organizing principles” (Fullan, 2001), which in my experience could have been used and maybe the results have been different. These are:
- It´s about instruction and only instruction;
- Instructional improvement is a long, multistage process involving awareness, planning, implementation and reflection;
- Shared expertise is the driver of instructional change;
- The focus is on system-wide improvement;
- Good ideas come from talented people working together;
- Set clear expectations, then decentralize,
- Collegiality, caring and respect.
Considering the meaning of educational change, it is important to remember Fullan (2006) words: “don’t go on this journey without being equipped with an active and open-ended grasp of change knowledge.”
Estonian National Curricula (2011). Retrived from: https://www.hm.ee/en/national-curricula
Fullan,M.(2001).The New Meaning of Educational Change. New York: Teachers College Press
Fullan, M. (2006, November). Change theory. A force for school improvement. Centre for Strategic Education Seminar Series. Paper No. 157. http://www.michaelfullan.ca/media/13396072630.pdf
Fullan, M.(2006). Turnaround Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
International Baccalaureate (2010, October). Primary Years Programme. Guide to school authorization: Primary Years Programme. Retrieved from: http://ibo.org/globalassets/publications/become-an-ib-school/pypguidetoschoolauthorization.pdf