Staying the Course in Education
If you have worked in education for any length of time, you have surely heard a teacher say “this too shall pass” when faced with implementing something new. Teachers are wary-and rightly so when districts adopt new practices. Their reality is that schools never stick with one thing for very long and if they wait it out, something new will come along. Teachers have learned to resist change simply because it is not worth their time and effort. Administrators come and go, and curriculum changes, but classroom practices often remain unchanged.
But what if we got off of the merry-go-round and took a different approach? We know that in order to create a sustained approach to successful implementation, schools need to employ leadership teams trained in problem-solving. These teams are tasked with examining school practice, aligning innovations and initiatives, selecting evidence-based practices that match student needs, and monitoring outcomes.
They begin by identifying the core practices that are to be carried out year after year, such as screening for academic and social-emotional learning difficulties, implementing evidence-based core instructional strategies and practices, developing a tiered response to learning and behavior difficulties, and using data to monitor our level of implementation and student outcomes.
In order to sustain these efforts, school board of trustees need to understand and value of these core practices. This ensures they hire superintendents who will sustain what is working and focus on continuing the practices that improve student outcomes.
Not only is education a tool to teach students how to read, write and think critically, but it also has the power to lift families out of poverty, teach children how to cope with trauma and adversity, and prevent a host of societal ills from drug abuse to suicide. To do this we have to be laser-focused on what works and start playing the long game.
The NCRSMH is currently recruiting schools to participate in a research project where they will learn how to create sustainable systems, engage key stakeholders, screen students for social-emotional learning and develop tiered interventions designed to address student needs. If your school or district is interested in participating, please contact Carol Ewen firstname.lastname@example.org or Lou Ann Tanner email@example.com.
About the Author
Licensed School Psychologist
I have worked at the local and state level developing and implementing school mental health interventions for the past 23 years. I am currently the Director of School Mental Health Programs at the University of Montana’s Center for Children, Families, and Workforce Development.