Special educators must be promoting change, and to promote this change, we need three essential roles to be cultivated in the school environment. We need Catalysts, Innovators and Supporters. To reiterate my stance on special education, it is time we need to do something different, to reflect on our past and ask ourselves what has changed in the past 5, 10 or 15 years. If nothing has changed then it is time to take a position. Mine is to create change and find others who want to do the same.
It starts with the leader. A leader must be a catalyst of change, allow staff to be innovative and support innovators within the school. These roles must be developed and seen as essential ingredients to promote change at all levels of the school environment.
Leaders have many responsibilities but their most important job is to instigate change; to be a catalyst for innovation. A leader does not necessarily have to be the person who creates the idea, but they do have to be a person who promotes it and gives it a chance in the organizational culture. They also need to keep their eyes and ears open to new practices to implement and use it in their organization. They are looking for inspiration and to be in the place or in communication with others who are looking for growth and progress.
Innovators are those individuals who come to you with an idea that they are excited about and they want to share it with someone. It could be a new curriculum, presentation, new technology, a unique classroom activity, or a new system to make their job more efficient, but they are looking for something new and different and they are looking for someone to listen. They learn from the world outside of their own classroom and are paying attention to what others are doing. They are curious and each day they are thinking about how they can make it better. They also move from concept to reality because thinking about it is not good enough, they need to experience it in action and find out if it works or not. They don’t want you to do it for them, they have a plan and just want to know they are going to be supported.
Leaders also need to be supporters because you will have innovators that are part of your staff and we need to give these innovators the opportunity to take risks. Leaders must encourage and support an innovative idea and be paving the way to give this initiative the best possible chance at succeeding. There will be criticism, negative talk, gossip and other barriers, but for change to happen the initiative needs to be supported through all of these obstacles and a leader must have courage to see it through.