Last night I joined a weight loss centre. It’s by no means the first time I have done this. I have been on a life long journey to find the ultimate balance of weight, exercise and healthy living. I have read the books, watched the videos, read the inspirational stories of others. Although I know I can have success somehow I go back to square one after a while and I know it’s not an uncommon story.
But last night as I was listening to the wise advice of the instructor I had a sense of deja vu across many levels. I know I have to eat better, drink less and exercise more. I know about the risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. I know what I need to do to change my lifestyle. The evidence is overwhelming. I can continue to look for the latest new idea, the latest diet fad – or I can just knuckle down (again) and do the hard yards.
The framework, the tools and the support that I led the design of with John Hattie could be seen as a metaphor for a weight loss program. It has been based on the evidence, it has the tools and it has the support required to make it work. Schools and teachers know what works and they often sign up to a program of support with gusto and optimism. Of course changing the practice or building on the excellent practice already in our schools is more complex than one person following a weight loss program. But there are also similarities.
First of all there is my level of readiness. The instructor I saw wasn’t pushy. I pointed that out to her and she said – “Well if you’re not ready to do this then it won’t work. I can point out the issues, the risks and the benefits, but it’s all up to you. There’s no need for me to be pushy because you know about this. If you’re ready you will do it.” The level of readiness in a school is also important. How motivated are teacher to make changes and how can we build that level of readiness in our schools?
I have a passion for scaling up education reform and I have been lucky enough to work with others and to see how it can happen effectively within and across schools. But where and what is the problem when it doesn’t have success? Is it the problem of the professional learning program or is it more likely that there is not a clear sense of readiness in the school or organisation that is using the framework? Or maybe it is a combination of many factors.
Starting with readiness as well as an understanding of the weight loss program will help me to reach my ultimate goal this time. Or maybe when all is said and done I just have not got the motivation or support or even the right solution to the problem.
I know for sure I will keep trying and I know for sure that many schools also keep trying to find solutions to a range of challenges in their schools. I can keep trying weight loss solutions and school can keep trying different professional learning programs – but in the end you have to have a clear goal, an analysis (with evidence) about the possible solutions and a clear strategy with support about how to put it in place. You also need to constantly evaluate the outcomes.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?