Achieving resilience

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“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organisation is transformed – the culture reflects the realities of people working together everyday.”

Frances Hesselbein

When considering the characteristics of resilient schools it is useful to consider the three dimensions illustrated below. This will ensure that school leaders and others involved in the transformation process focus across all areas of a school’s activity, and not just on one particular thing.

For example, during the lockdown and beyond we’ve seen lots of emphasis on providing technology for students at home, teachers working in teams to ensure coverage during absences or rosters of students . These are examples of structural responses.

Similarly, some schools have focused more on the wellbeing needs of students and their families, and on working with whānau to ensure support for learners at home. These responses illustrate responses involving the culture of the school.

Thirdly, there were examples of changes in pedagogical approaches to reflect the fact that students were no longer continually physically present with teachers and other students, including changing the way learning materials are designed etc. These are examples of responses in the area of practice.

The important thing to understand is that as we strive to achieve resilience in our educational organisations, it is important that we are focused on the change required in each of these dimensions. Introducing new technology won’t be sufficient unless we change our pedagogical practices. And changes in pedagogical practice will require changes in the way(s) we work together, and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses etc.

Each of these dimensions is explained in a more detail in my publication “Being Resilient” which you can access below. Within each dimension there are three areas of focus that provide a focus on what may be regarded as the characteristics of resilient schools. 

These focus areas have been identified from what was learned from the COVID lockdown experiences, the subsequent feedback from educators, students and parents, and the emerging body of literature from around the world. The goal has been to provide a useful framework for those working close with schools to be able to begin reflecting on the changes needing to be pursued. No framework will reflect everyone’s context, and so no claim is made that this is definitive or complete – instead it provides a starting point for thinking about and evaluating progress.

I will be publishing a summary of these characteristics in future blog posts.

This post is an extract from my recently published paper Being Resilient: Characteristics of Resilient Schools. This paper provides guidance for school leaders as they seek to work with their staff and communities to design the systems, structures and processes required to ensure they are able to continue providing high quality learning experiences for their students in the wake of any disruption they experience, be that short or long-term, impacting all or some of their staff and/or students.

Download your free copy here.

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