For true change, go all in

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley May 23rd, 2024 · 2min read

This week we are looking at, The problem of nominal change, by educational expert, author and probably my favourite educational thinker, Dr Jim Knight.

There is no lack of good ideas on how to improve schools, but there is a lack of quality implementation. Nominal change wastes everyone’s time in a school, including students’ time. Like so many things in life, taking the time to plan, learn and improve can make a difference.

Key points

  • Few people are busier than educational leaders.
  • Trying something new seems more interesting than going the distance with an intervention a school has worked on for years.
  • If new changes aren’t implemented effectively, they won’t make a difference.
  • The nominal change cycle – introducing new practices, implementing them nominally, moving to other new practices (that will eventually be implemented nominally and rejected) – erodes teachers’ commitment to any new initiatives. This can lead to the mindset, This too shall pass.

Read the full article

What you can do

Leaders need to be clear on why they are implementing a strategy and what will be different when it is effectively carried out.

  • Champions are required to be experts in aspects of the initiative being implemented. Pilot programs are a useful way to test a program in your context.
  • If we are going to add something new, remove something else.
  • Educators need to measure what works and what doesn’t and make improvements.
  • Listen to teachers and students as their firsthand experiences can be invaluable in making improvements.

Happy coaching,


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