Effective Strategies to Impact Policies and Practices for School Change

by: Monica Washington

The greatest barrier I have encountered in teacher-leadership is the realization that those school priorities that often live in mission and vision statements fail to exist in our relationships and policies with students and their families. The great irony in school change is that we often implement new programs without wanting to make the shifts in thinking and policy that allow those programs to be effective.

Breaking through the wall of “this is what we’ve always done” can be a daunting task for teacher-leaders. However, inequitable school practices and policies have shown me that it is necessary to partner with administrators and colleagues to examine the “why” behind practices as well as maintain transparency and honesty about which student populations are adversely affected by those practices. When we ask the following questions, we are putting ourselves in a better position to understand where change is needed to make the necessary shifts to implement it: “Why are we doing this?” “What groups are we serving through this policy” “Which groups are not represented?” and “How can we provide greater access to school-wide programs?”

Monica Washington has over 20 years in education with the majority of that time spent teaching secondary English. She is an instructional coach and manager of inclusive and responsive educational practices for BetterLesson. Monica is the 2014 Texas State Teacher of the Year as well as a member of the board of directors for The National Network of State Teachers of the Year and the National Education Association Foundation. Read Monica Washington’s narrative in A Sacred Space: 12 Expert Teachers Share Stories of Resilience, Success and Leadership.