People to Know: Michael Fullan

fullanpressimageMichael Fullan is Professor Emeritus of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. His latest books are Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge (2012), Motion Leadership in Action: More Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy (2012) and Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School (with Andy Hargreaves) (2012).

According to Fullan, knowing the “Wrong Drivers” can help positive education change succeed.

Wrong Drivers, according to Fullan, “—are hard to get right. It’s not a list of things—it’s the integration and coherence of how they interact together to produce results.”

  1. “Using accountability as a stick.” Greater accountability doesn’t necessarily mean greater response. None of the countries that are successful use “heavy-handed accountability”. Extrinsic rewards, like merit pay, won’t work according to Fullan; intrinsic motivation will. Transparency and openness of process works, because you can see whether something is happening or not. Good focus, goals, and transparency develop success with ties to student achievement.
  2. “Focus on individual teachers. There’s a need to get better teachers into the profession.”
  3. “Over-reliance on technology. While it looks like a good solution and the future, if you don’t have good pedagogy for how you’re going to use the technology—it puts the cart before the horse.”
  4. “Fragmented Changes.” Separating standards, assessment, and teacher quality fails. It’s better to have integrated, or systemic, changes.

According to Fullan, the best systems in the world do the following things:

  1. “They focus on a small number of core goals—deep literacy… deep numeracy, and students learning through out.”
  2. “They put a lot of energy into the quality of the teaching profession.” They focus on attracting good teachers to the profession, and professional development once they’re hired.
  3. “They invest in leadership. School principals and coaches are leading the strategies.”
  4. They create collaborative working conditions for teachers.
  5. “They use data, but in a non-judgmental way.” This supports a school culture where it’s OK to take risks. There’s “no punishment in the short run as long as you learn from it.”

Need more? Hear it from Michael Fullan himself: What Doesn’t Work in School Reform.

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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