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Structures & Cultures that Support Improvement

“Change Happens at the Speed of Trust” — Stephen Covey

If you’re planning to use Elevate, you probably already understand that students engage and learn best when certain conditions are in place. The same is true for educators, especially when participating in something as novel and vulnerable as collecting and acting on student feedback. 

With the right context and support, educators report that participating in an Elevate community of practice is insightful and even transformative (see video stories). However, educators are far less likely to engage, improve, and thrive if they feel judged, coerced, or unappreciated—or if they simply don’t have enough time to reflect on, learn from, and act in response to students’ feedback. 

In order to have a productive community of practice that engages and empowers educators to learn and improve, do your best to establish these conditions.

Build Trust and Community

Collaborative improvement happens on teams that trust and respect each other enough to take and provide honest feedback. Invest the requisite time and effort to develop respectful, collaborative relationships in which everyone feels valued and has meaningful opportunities to be heard. Here are some tips.

Keep the Purpose at the Center

Continuous improvement is a creative, effortful process that requires active learning, adaptation, and persistence. To keep educators engaged, help them articulate and reconnect with their why—the reasons why they believe this work is important to them personally and to the school more broadly.  

Diffuse Evaluation Anxiety

Clearly communicate that Elevate results are formative and that they will be used only to support learning and improvement, not to evaluate educators. For example, this Letter to Teachers was written by a superintendent to reassure teachers about the district’s plans for Elevate data.

Establish Growth Oriented Norms

Resist the tendency to blame others when something is wrong. Instead, focus yourself and others on the things you can do to make things better. Leaders can model a growth mindset by being open about challenges and mistakes, curious about potential solutions, willing to test solutions, and striving for growth not perfection.

Align Priorities for Coherence and Synergy

Educators won’t have the time or mental bandwidth for Elevate if they see it as “another initiative” that competes with their other priorities. This article provides detailed steps to help teachers connect Elevate to their goals and includes a detailed case study of a specific school’s process. In summary:

  • Articulate how Elevate supports and complements school priorities.

  • Reserve time for teachers to collect, reflect on, and intentionally respond to their Elevate data. For example, leverage existing meetings and teams and/or, if possible, compensate teachers with professional development funds.

  • Recognize and reward teachers who are committed to using Elevate.

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