How to Ensure your Educational Organization is Ready
for Eric Jensen
Not every organization is ready for a consultant. You get the most value out of bringing an advisor or staff developer into your organization when you’ve done your homework.
The real goal of staff development is to affect positive, lasting change. That will happen only when you understand what elements drive true behavior changes and which ones do not.
1. Understand What Prevents Change
- A leader who lacks will, vision and enthusiasm for the project or one who will leave before it’s finished
- Lack of perceived need and motivation among staff
- Confusion over what is being offered or implemented
- Lack of follow up resources for participants
- Lack of goals, feedback or celebrations over time
- Bad timing for the staff development
Don’t force this on your staff. If you have 80% of your staff who are going to retire in a year and don’t want to attend, it’s better to invest your money elsewhere. If you’re unwilling to continue training or purchase follow-up materials to support your staff, this is not for you. If you only want to get higher test scores, hire a test prep consultant.
Eric Jensen’s focus is on learning: how to understand it, improve it and practical strategies to enhance it. If you want to develop better human beings who will get higher test scores eventually, this might be for you.
While you can expect learning and motivation to improve, it’s not an instant fix. It does take some time to get most everyone on board. The by-product of this steady approach is that you’ll get the higher test scores you desire by doing other things well.
2. Understand What Fuels Change
- A strong perceived desire and/or need to change
- A clear understanding of what the changes will be
- A clear majority (60% or more) favoring the changes
- A leader who is willing to stay and follow through
- A minority (40% or less) who does not agree but will suspend judgment for 6-12 months
- Having necessary resources like time, materials and good health in order to make the changes
- Feeling supported by supervisors and administrators
- Receiving follow-up
- Setting goals and benchmarks
- Feedback and coaching to fine-tune the progress
- Celebrations when goals are reached.
Before you contact Jensen Learning, ask yourself, “Is our organization ready? Is this a good use of our resources? Will I have prepared the participants in advance? Am I willing to support this effort in the long run?” If the answers to those questions are, “No”, it may be better to wait until you’re ready.
3. Get the Group Size Right
Think big. Our commitment is to make a significant difference in the lives of your staff and students. In general, we like projects which
- Allows us to work with the greatest number of people
- Influences those most willing to change
- Includes the decision-making administrators
- Is designed to succeed long-term
If you can’t afford this opportunity, find partners who will help you. That may mean you get other schools, the district, or even corporate partners. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Eric will work with from 50-2000 educators at a time.
By the way, the larger the group, the more important the venue is. The larger the group, the less the audience tends to participate (they feel less accountable in large groups). Regardless of your group size, Eric will do a great job.
4. Use the Rule of the Thirds
You might be like many who organize professional development. You are experienced, thoughtful and very, very busy. So what is the “Rule of Thirds?”
It’s the biggest little secret in education.
There are three BIG thirds in professional development. The first third of the three comes from the circumstances of the actual professional development day. I am shocked at how often someone asks me to fly 5,000 miles to his or her school and yet there’s a terrible microphone, poor seating and abominable lighting. Some “providers” ensure there are plenty of donuts, as if that would optimize staff learning. Others give me a screen 6’ x 6’ for 500 people. That’s like watching a movie in your living room on an iPod from five feet away. Instead, be sure to get a 10 foot x 10 foot screen!
Over the years, I have been asked to speak in a movie theater, a bar, a library, a lunchroom and, even a racetrack. A cheap or free venue is NOT a bargain if the staff has a bad day. Now you should know that I am good at working miracles with whatever someone gives me, but why take risks if you don’t have to? The first third of the three parts is: optimize learning conditions!
The second third of the value in professional development comes from having a relevant, high quality, and very engaging presenter. That’s right: 33% of the value from any professional development that comes from the caliber of presenter. By the way, those who hire me say that I consistently get “rave” reviews. I will always do my best so that you’ll be proud of your decision.
The third of three thirds comes from the follow up. Every teacher needs to have weekly or monthly “check-ins” that jump-start the changes. Teachers are busy and sometimes stressed. In fact, they are so busy, that you practically have to “get in their face” to get them to do something out of the ordinary. Without adequate follow up, you are getting only a portion of the potential value.
Follow up should be 1) book study 2) professional learning communities 3) weekly emails 4) teachers blogging about the strategies they use 5) short weekly staff meetings with quick sharing and celebrations.
5. Support The Change Process
Remember to start now and finish “long” and extend the training. Follow up should be any of those items above such as:
- book study
- professional learning communities
- weekly emails
- teachers blogging about the strategies they use
- short weekly staff meetings with quick sharing and celebrations.
Now that you know better, figure out how to make it happen. By the way, if you are now willing to prepare and support your staff over the long haul, Eric Jensen may be your person, especially if you have 50-1,000 attendees. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org