Resilience is often considered the ability to overcome hardship and adapt quickly to change. And let’s face it: Maybe our school systems aren’t resilient enough. While change is the only real constant in life, humans like to create stability that resists change. Hence the bureaucratic systems that not only hinder progress, but are also actively thrown into chaos when change occurs.
Granted there are innovators in the education sector working to create changes that improve the quality of student education. However, the reality is that across the UK (and the US), many students still leave school unprepared for college and even less prepared to enter the workforce.
There are many factors contributing to the unfortunate reality of students being unprepared for the modern world of work and higher education. But rather than rattling off those reasons, what if we considered shoring up our educational institutions by building resilience into the culture?
Resilience is a manifestation of a growth mindset; in other words, anything can improve, adapt and grow, with work and discipline. While every organisation needs systems and rigour to run effectively, this does not mean that these systems must be rigid and immutable. Instead, when things start to break down, this is most often a sure sign that the systems are not working, maybe too rigid, and need to be reconsidered.
In this way, a resilient school culture is one wherein systems are evaluated periodically so that they are agile, able to evolve and adapt to changes that inevitably take place over time. Here are some things to consider in order to keep bureaucracy and legacy processes from becoming roadblocks to progress.
1. Celebrate success. Setting goals and objectives is crucial in a culture of continuous improvement. But, do not neglect the importance of celebrating achievement before moving on to the next big thing. Even small acknowledgements of a job well done can sustain morale through the toughest of challenges.
2. Develop leaders. Resilient organisations invest in the growth and development of their teams. Provide regular personal and professional development opportunities, and encourage colleagues create personalised progression path roadmaps.
3. Encourage peer coaching. Teams that trust each other are more resilient than those that do not. Cultivate a sense of community and trust by encouraging colleagues to coach each other. You can take this a step further by helping and making specific recommendations regarding pertinent themes to discuss e.g. consistency, professionalism, performance. We call this peer to peer, non-expert approach Brief Coaching.
4. Cultivate accountability. Accountability is an important part of creating any high-performance culture. This means establishing clear expectations among school administrators, teaching and non-teaching staff, and creating an environment where people can communicate feedback (good and EBI) in a constructive and transparent way.
5. Remember the “why”. None of the other tips will matter if your school loses sight of its culture foundation. In other words, that the purpose of the school and it’s values are the guiding light that leaders must return to every time they consider what would be best for the organisation, its staff, and the students served.
It’s time for schools to confidently evolve beyond traditional legacy systems and truly become resilient toward the demands of Century 21. By creating a resilient culture, schools and their staff become more agile while staying focused on their primary goal of providing students with a foundation for lifelong success.