Do your school reform efforts frequently sputter or stall? In this indispensable sequel to the
bestseller Motion Leadership, Michael Fullan shares the real-life strategies and results of educators who have
used motion leadership to propel entire organizations and systems forward. Success stories from the
US and around the world illustrate how educators can use a small number of specific actions to
generate momentum for lasting change. Motion Leadership in Action addresses:
• Creating and leading movement in the right direction and at the right time
• Implementing a "ready-fire-aim" mindset
• Emphasizing the importance of collaboration
• Forging relationships while handling resistance
• Establishing your change stance in order to get better results
The first edition of The Challenge of Change was published in 1997. It turned out that this was precisely the year when the field of educational change began a major shift toward deeper action and large-scale reform.
The occasion was Tony Blair’s first term election in England in May, 1997. He came into power with a clear and explicit education platform in which literacy and numeracy were named as the core priorities. Blair and his government committed in advance to targets of 80% proficiency in literacy and 75% in numeracy for 11-year-olds — starting at a base of 62%. This was an enormous undertaking because it involved the entire system of 20,000 schools and a timeline of essentially four years.
Professional capital has a fundamental con-nection to transforming teaching every day, and we’ve seen many examples of this at work in schools and school systems around the world. Here, we explore the powerful idea of capital and articulate its importance for professional work, professional capacity, and professional effectiveness. Systems that invest in professional capital recognize that education spending is an investment in developing human capital from early childhood to adulthood, leading to rewards of economic productivity and social cohesion in the next gen-eration (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012).
Professional capital requires attention not only to po-litical and societal investments in education but also to leadership actions and educator needs, contributions, and career stages.
Whatever one’s style, every leader, to be effective, must have and work on improving his or her moral purpose. Moral purpose is about both ends and means. Authentic leaders, in other words, display character, and character is the defining characteristic of authentic leadership.
Whether people are driven by egoistic (self-centered) or altruistic (unselfish) motives, the fact is that all effective leaders are driven by both.
There is currently a powerful push-pull factor in schooling. The push factor is that school is increasingly boring for students and alienating for teachers. The pull fac-tor is that the exploding and alluring digital world is irresistible, but not necessarily productive in its raw form. The push-pull dynamic makes it inevitable that disruptive changes will occur. I have been part of a group that has been developing innova-tive responses to the current challenges. This response consists of integrating three components: deep learning goals, new pedagogies, and technology. The result will be more radical change in the next five years than has occurred in the past 50 years.
A theory is a way of organizing ideas that makes sense of the world. A theory of action is a way of understanding the world in a way that identifies insights and ideas for effectively improving it.
This chapter is about a theory of action for whole system improvement in education. There are three conditions that such a theory must meet for the task at hand. First, it must meet the systemness criterion. Do the ideas stand a chance of addressing the whole system, not just a few hundred schools here and there? Second, our theory must make a compelling case that using the ideas will result in positive movement. We are talking about improvement after all — going from one state to another state. Third, such a theory must demonstrably tap into and stimulate people’s motivation. I ask the reader to keep these three criteria in mind in assessing the theory I am about to offer, and in comparing it with other competing theories of action. Thus, to what extent do other theories or mine measure up to the systemness, movement, and motivation criteria.
Education PLUS is the hidden dividend that learners come to acquire if they are educated in what we call the new pedagogies ‐ powerful new learning modes steeped in real world problem solving now made more telling through recent, rapid developments in the use of technology for interactive learning.
We can and will define the core learning outcomes as the ‘Six Cs of Deep Learning’, but we first must understand the existential essence of this new human being. It is no exaggeration to say that the new pedagogies have the potential to support a fundamental transformation in human evolution. The result is that action, reflection, learning and living can now become one and the same. This seamless ‘ecology’ of life and learning occurs during what we used to know as formal schooling, post‐secondary and higher education, but then continues throughout life. In this model, learning, doing, knowing, adapting, inventing and living become practically indistinguishable. Although we offer here a philosophical note on Education PLUS we are deeply involved with practitioners around the world in doing this new work of learning on an increasingly large and deep scale. The
developments we describe are happening in real time, and we predict will take off in the immediate future.
In 2003 Ontario’s schools were in a troubled state. The achievement of students was ‘good’ but flat lined — stagnant results year after year. Morale of teachers was low; the schools as a whole could be characterized as ‘loosely-coupled’ and without focus. The system was downtrodden.
Now in early 2013, the overall performance of the almost 5,000 schools in the province has dramatically improved on most key measures, and continues to improve. According to international measures and independent expert assessment, Ontario is recognized as and is proven to be the best school system in the English-speaking world — and right up at the top with Finland, Singapore and South Korea.
I am very pleased to present this issue of In Conversation as it provides me with the opportunity to say once again that I have long believed that we are well on our way to achieving a level and quality of school and system leadership that is second to none in the world. Since the launch of the Ontario Leadership Strategy (OLS) in 2008, we have been recognized internationally as one of the world’s top school systems, and as a system that is building leadership capacity for the future. And that, I believe, is a tribute to the work of our school and system leaders.
My work in change over the past 40 years started with the premise of finding out as much as possible about the problems of
implementation. The more we found out the more we got drawn to doing something about it. In the last decade and a half in particular, we have been teaming up with local practitioners and system politicians to cause greater implementation. What we discovered is wonderful news for research, namely ‘to do is to know more.’
In the last decade, the Canadian province dramatically improved its education system to become one of the best in the world. Its innovative strategy can provide a blueprint for U.S. reform.
Ontario is Canada's largest province, home to over 13 million people and a public education system with roughly 2 million students, 120,000 educators, and 5,000 schools. As recently as 2002, this system was stagnant by virtually any measure of performance. In October 2003, a new provincial government (Canada has no federal agency or jurisdiction in education) was elected with a mandate and commitment to transform it.
The results of the latest MetLife Survey of the American Teacher confirm what many of us are experiencing and seeing in the depressing descent of the teaching profession. In the past two years, the percentage of teachers surveyed who reported being very satisfied in their jobs has declined sharply, from 59 percent to 44 percent. The number who indicated they were thinking of
leaving the profession has jumped from 17 percent to 29 percent. Imagine being a student knowing that every other teacher you encounter is becoming less and less satisfied, and close to one in three would rather be somewhere else.
Introducing the drivers for whole system reform
‘Whole system reform’ is the name of the game and ‘drivers’ are those policy and strategy levers that have the least and best chance of driving successful reform. A ‘wrong driver’ then is a deliberate policy force that has little chance of achieving the desired result, while a ‘right driver’ is one that ends up achieving better measurable results for students. Whole system reform
is just that – 100 per cent of the system – a whole state, province, region or entire country. This paper examines those drivers typically chosen by leaders to accomplish reform, critiques their inadequacy, and offers an alternative set of drivers that have been proven to be more effective at accomplishing the desired goal, which I express as … the moral imperative of raising the bar (for all students) and closing the gap (for lower performing groups) relative to higher order skills and competencies required to be successful world citizens.
It may seem strange to say that professional development—educators going to workshops and conferences, and taking courses—bears little relationship to classroom and school improvement. Similarly teachers toiling away as individuals do not add up to school or system success. What really counts is what happens ‘in between workshops’ or what I call learning is the work (Fullan, 2008).
You can’t make people change, and rewards and punishment either don’t work or are short lived—the only thing that works is people’s intrinsic motivation, and you have to get at this indirectly.
So far we have looked at deliberate practice as the crucible of learning, and empathetic resolute leadership committed to making learning better and better. But what is going to motivate the masses? Impressive empathy is a start, but you also need something to actually engage people. The big change problem, then, is how to get people to put in the energy to improve a situation when a
lot of them don’t want to do it. How do you get people to change their minds? Grasping the essence of quality change processes is the focus of this chapter.
Education is overloaded with programs and data. The growth of digital power has aided and abetted the spread of accountability-driven data—adequate yearly progress, test results for every child in every grade, common core standards, formative and summative assessments galore. Each data set shows a full continuum from below standard to exceed standards. Educators need to be able to put FACES on the data at all points on the continuum and, to know what to do to help individual children behind the statistical mask.
Let's put the worries about our new curriculum into perspective. We live in an increasingly challenging, complex, inter-connected and unpredictable world beset by a range of seemingly insoluble problems.
This is the view of Thomas Homer-Dixon (pictured), an expert in peace and conflict studies, who believes these problems arise from "tectonic stresses". He identifies five: population stress, energy stress, environmental stress, climate stress and economic stress (the ever-widening gap between rich and poor people).
This article reviews the history of large-scale education reform and makes the case that large-scale or whole system reform policies and strategies are becoming increasingly evident. The review briefly addresses the pre 1997 period concluding that while the pressure for reform was mounting that there were very few examples of deliberate or successful strategies being developed. In the second period—1997 to 2002—for the first time we witness some specific cases of whole system reform in which progress in student achievement was evident. England and Finland are cited as two cases in point. In 2003–2009 we began to observe an expansion of the number of systems engaged in what I call tri-level reform—school/ district/government. As Finland, Singapore, Alberta, Canada, Hong Kong, and South Korea continued to demonstrate strong performance in literacy, math and science, Ontario joined the ranks with a systematic tri-level strategy which virtually immediately yielded results and continues to do so in 2009. The nature of these large-scale reform strategies is identified in this article. It can be noted that very little productive whole system reform was going on in the United States. Aside from pockets of success at the level of a few districts since 2000, and despite the presence of a ‘policy without a strategy’ in the form of No Child Left Behind the US failed to make any progress in increasing student achievement. In the final section of the paper I consider the early steps of the Obama
administration in light of the ‘theory of action’ of whole system reform identified in this article and predict that there we will see a great expansion and deepening of large-scale reform strategies in the immediate future, not only in the U.S. but across the world.
Charter schools, Teach For America, and the Knowledge Is Power Program may have their merits, but they are not whole-system reform. The latter is about improving every classroom, every school, and every district in the state, province, or country, not just some schools. The moral and political purpose of whole-system reform is ensuring that everyone will be affected for the better, starting on day one of implementing the strategy. The entire system should show positive, measurable results within two or three years. We have done this in Ontario, Canada, where we have had the opportunity since 2003 to implement new policies and practices across the system—all 4,000 elementary schools, 900 secondary schools, and the 72 districts that serve 2 million students. Following five years of stagnation and low morale, from 1998 to 2003, the impact of the new strategies has been dramatic: Higher-order literacy and numeracy have increased by 10 percentage points across the system; the high school graduation rate has risen 9 percentage points, from 68 percent to 77 percent; the morale o teachers and principals has improved; and the public’s confidence in the system is up.
Drawing on a vast range of research, much of it focused on the dynamics of school life, Michael Fullan has distilled rich insights and wisdom of great value to the Irish school system in transition. In this paper he puts the spotlight on the pivotal role of the principal in the Irish education reform movement for the twenty-first century. Its tripartite format identifies how principals make a
difference, what barriers prevent them from realising their potential and what actions need to be taken ‘to create a new irreversible momentum of success’. The paper presents a concise and compelling case for constructive action, which we will ignore at our peril. As he remarks, the paper ‘has a decidedly action bias’, and he directs his specific recommendations to three agencies – the government, IPPN and individual principals. Fullan tells us that his recommendations are ‘intended to build on the strong educational traditions and practices in the Irish system’, but he is unequivocal on the need for action to secure the future well-being of the system.