In response to the 11/7/2010 post, “Yes, I Know the Hours are Long – Part 1 & 2,” a reader writes: There are many reasons why many educators are putting in long hours during this time of educational reform. What I have found is that many educators resisted change when it was introduced either thru a workshop or faculty meeting. I have observed many make comments such as, “I will close my door and do what I know is best” or “I have been teaching 20+ years and they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Then there are those that changed only while they were being monitored and quit doing the new practices to go back to their comfort zone once no one was watching. Consequently, a majority of educators didn’t change and now America lags behind other nations in many subjects. Couple that issue with the preventable school dropouts that occur because typical teaching practices do not include activities for different learning styles and it seems that we just keep digging a deeper hole for ourselves. Furthermore, Lead Your School would not have been founded unless there was a need for fundamental practices to be implemented to improve education for all of our students. I wish I had thought of it myself! Unfortunately, we are now being bombarded with changes that needed to be implemented long ago and many of us are overwhelmed. We cannot continue to resist change – the World is changing and we will be left behind! SC Response When it comes to changing teacher practice, there are a number of reasons why so many teachers are resistant and cynical. And in the defense of teachers, a lot of this came about honestly. Mandates with no training; training without follow-up and support; trainers and leaders with no credibility and/or practical knowledge; and decision makers that haven’t spent meaningful time in the classroom in years force teachers to embrace a bunker mentality just to function on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, when you are dealing with a veteran staff, if you expect them to welcome your agenda with open arms and proclaim that you are the answer to their all of their problems, that is naïve. You have to make a compelling case, you have to communicate like a broken record, you have to monitor and support, and (here is the really important part) you have to do this day, after day, after day. Or you have to carry a big stick and not be afraid to use it (which is yet another reason why veteran teachers are often cynical and distrustful). My point being is that you can’t wish, hope or tell “change.” You have to lead and manage change. Next, those of us who are no longer in classrooms need to take a step back and realize that what we are asking teachers to do now, none of us had to do ourselves. We may have taught like teachers today in short bursts (though I wouldn’t bet money on it), but we were not required to sustain the effort. Here was the instructional mandate I operated under when I was in the classroom. 1. Teach your content. 2. Use this textbook. 3. Call the parent before you give a student an “F.” 4. Know that we will think less of you if you send too many kids to the office. Here’s the new instructional mandate:1. Teach at mid to high rigor, daily for extended periods of time. 2. Teach at mid to high relevance, daily for extended periods of time. 3. Teach on a mandated, accelerated pace. 4. Ensure that all of your students are successful. Teachers have shouldered the bulk of the change in the work of education. Which is why the systems where leadership is actually engaged in instruction have been much more successful in this new era, than systems where leadership works on administrivia and leaves the business of teaching to teachers alone. I’ll close with this, in terms of American schools vs. the schools of other developed nations, the glass is either half-empty or half-full. The American school is expected to educate, at a high level, everyone who walks through the door (still a work in progress). The other developed nations do not attempt do this. If you are a pessimist, this is a glass half-empty situation. Educating only the motivated and prepared is an easier job. And the overall performance ceiling of the motivated and prepared always appears higher. But our requirement to educate everyone at a high level makes us better understand our craft. It forces us to work harder and smarter in order to succeed. Plus, it creates a populace with both a wider and deeper education base. I view this as a glass half-full situation. Which is why I never advocate slowing down. What we (the LYS Nation) are doing right now is much too important to take a day off. Think. Work. Achieve.Your turn…Visit the LYS Booth at the TASA Mid-winter Conference