By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor

The Future

I have said before that I like change for a number of reasons. Maybe it is because I am not a big storyteller of past experiences or don't spend a lot of time daydreaming about the good old days (there is nothing wrong with that, of course). I just personally enjoy looking forward to the new experience; it keeps things fresh and even though it can be a struggle at times, the world we live in waits for no one.

Quite often I hear industrial-age model, traditional, slow to change, creatures of habit, as words and phrases to describe our public school system. Having two elementary-age children, I would rather hear the words collaborative, innovative, student-centered, challenging, and ready to adapt for each individual student. Those environments do exist in public education and we should hold them up as models for others to see. The question is: How did they get to that place many schools and districts struggle for everyday?

An Agile Staff
When I say agile, I am using the word it in the purest sense:

  • quick and well-coordinated in movement
  • active, lively
  • marked by an ability to think quickly, mentally acute or aware

I am not an English major, so hopefully I am using the word correctly, but I can't dismiss the notion that if a staff is agile and prepared to be quick on their feet, they probably have a mindset that is open to change. The question becomes: How do we build in a comfort level with our staff that allows them to be quick on their feet, embrace change, and allow that quick thinking, lively personality to take over?

Supportive Environment
Start by building a supportive environment that fosters collaboration, risk taking, and direct answers that address concerns when they arise. If staff members have support from their leadership and peers, change can become more of an opportunity for improvement and not a scary situation that threatens the comfort of what we know.

Change is inevitable and it is necessary for moving forwarding in any school, department, or business. Embracing the concept is difficult for most because routine is something that is built into us as humans from birth, so maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. But a supportive environment is also something that most are provided from birth and that allows kids to grow and develop and enjoy new experiences. Maybe we just need to provide that supportive environment at the shop and see what happens.

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.