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New programs – are they adding value?

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New programs – are they adding value?

Has the new thing you’ve introduced to your school or classroom added value, or did you just throw out something good? This is a question posed by Dr Linda Bendikson from The University of Auckland.

Following her presentation at ACER’s Research Conference last year, Bendikson sat down with Teacher editor Jo Earp to talk more about courageous leadership, particularly when faced with the challenge of resisting a new program or idea.

‘I’ve seen examples where schools have got some great results in the past and then when we’ve talked about it and said, “how did you get those great results?”, they’ve analysed it and they’ve had some good theories about it and I’ve said well “why aren’t you still doing that?”

‘And they’ve said, “Well because something else has come in now and we had to concentrate on that so we threw that out”. And I think that’s one of the challenges with leadership – there’s always something coming at you,’ Bendikson shares.

She believes it also takes a lot of courage to resist some new ideas and instead say, ‘let’s test and see what works, let’s get some short-term feedback loops and actually see if what we are doing is effective … not to adopt something that somebody else is doing’.

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As a school leader, how often do you resist the temptation to throw out something that is working well to be replaced by the new, exciting thing? What sorts of things do you consider before taking on a new program or idea?

As a teacher, how do you ensure that the new program or idea you’re implementing in your classroom is genuinely adding value? How do you determine what that value is?

Jamie 03 February 2018

My experience is more often the opposite. Schools tend to stay with tried practice because they’re comfortable and/or they see other factors as the problem, not their teaching. At my current school we have made wholesale changes which focus on explicit teaching and consistent approaches. This took courage given the resistance to change. Collect lots of data to drive decisions. Need for change comes from data. Opposition to change requires evidence that change isn’t warranted.

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