I have written nothing on this blog for the past year, the reason being I have been in a new job, brand-new position. Task: to bring together 5 clusters into one team, change their ways of working and implement an infrastructure as part of a transformation of the special education services in New Zealand. As with all change management this was met with much resistance from the resource teachers who had led somewhat independent lives for the past 10 years, each working as part of a school and its community and from some of the Principals who felt that this was yet another Ministry initiative aimed at disempowering their positions. http://rtlb.tki.org.nz/About-RTLB-service/RTLB-transformation
I recently rediscovered an article by Michael Fullan, Claudia Cuttress and Ann Kilcher “8 Forces for Leaders of Change” (2005) and decided to use this article as a way of documenting and reviewing the processes we put in place last year (2012), the first year of the transformation. http://www.michaelfullan.com/articles
Driver 1 – Engaging Peoples’ moral purposes – the moral purpose for our cluster working with 28 decile 1 and 2 schools (decile 1 being lowest socio-economic ranking and decile 10 highest) was to provide a service that would reach as many of the students with learning and behavioural problems in our area as possible. The medical model of withdrawing students from class to “fix” them had long since gone with Special Education 2000 http://bit.ly/VRMWv5, although vestiges of the old practices remained as evidenced in the Education Review Office Report (ERO) in 2009 which showed the RTLB Service to be underperforming and inefficient http://bit.ly/XZ8IzT. Bringing the RTLBs together as itinerant resource teachers working as part of a team meant that a more dynamic approach could be used with more specialised and in-depth work in schools. This would lead to a closing of the student achievement gap which in NZ, is one of the biggest in the OECD countries and dominated by Maori and Pasifika students. Thus as far as moral purpose goes, we are looking at fairness and equity, equal opportunities for all including the opportunity to work, the opportunity to be taught using a culturally responsive pedagogy and the opportunity for lifelong learning and success.
How did we work to achieve a moral purpose in which the whole team was engaged and taking ownership?
- weekly 2 hour professional development sessions for the whole team
- developing a shared vision to which all contributed
- a commitment to learning Maori language and tikanga together as part of the professional development sessions
- using a critical friend circle to give constructive feedback and problem-solve work issues for individual RTLBs (in sub-teams)
- celebrating successes
- communicating the vision, moral purpose and ways of working to the Principals and school leaders in the cluster through newsletters and meetings