Identifying an Action Plan and Leading Change

 Identifying an Action Plan and Leading Change

Identifying areas where the programme needs to “grow”.

An essential part of the DP coordinator`s role is leading the curriculum on a wide range of issues related to the IBO’s standards and practices and the context of the school. The DP Coordinator must ensure that they have a clear overview of how the programme is being delivered in the school. This will enable them to be able to create an action plan to take the programme forward, with the aim of identifying and implementing any necessary changes to current practices, as well as bringing in new initiatives that will enhance the running of the programme.

Using IBO Standards and Practices and authorization / evaluation reports.

A good place to start as a Coordinator is to take a holistic look at the programme and identify what needs to be put into place to ensure it meets the requirements laid out in the IBO standards and practices as set out in the evaluation self-study document. This document is split into three areas; Standard A: Philosophy, Standard B: Organisation and Standard C: Curriculum.

Standard B, Organisation is split into two parts; Leadership and Structure and Organisation and Support. Standard C: Curriculum is split into four parts; Collaborative Planning, Written Curriculum, Teaching and Learning and Assessment.

Each IBO World School is evaluated against these Standards and Practices on a five yearly basis and it is a key part of the coordinator`s role to put procedures into place to make sure the school is implementing them, and has a detailed plan of action to make improvements over the five-year cycle. A detailed analysis of how I prepared my teacher to assess ourselves against the Standards and Practices in preparation for our IBO evaluation visit is shown in the evaluation part of this website, which can be found here.

 The school`s previous evaluation report, or authorisation report, is essential in looking at the progress the school has made towards the targets set by the IBO and the recommendations where further improvement needs to be made. These targets provide a good start in understanding what the IBO`s expectations for the school are for the next five years. The targets will be looked at as part of the next evaluation visit and the IBO will be looking for evidence that they have been met or the school is in the process of meeting them.

 When I started the role of coordinator in my school, I read through our authorisation report which gave me a clear direction in where the IBO wanted to see progress. Due to confidential information in the authorisation report, I have not published it here.

 Many of the resources on this website came after my initial review of the programme in my school, which led me to focus on the areas where we needed to concentrate on in relation to the standards and practices, for example: teaching and learning, unit planning, moderation, collaboration between staff in different departments, reporting to parents, the implementation of the Core, supporting students throughout the programme, internal assessments and policies on Assessment, Academic Honesty, Special Educational Needs and Language. This website explains the strategies I have put into place, and the resources that I have created to improve the delivery of these, and many other areas.

 The Coordinator reviewing the state of the programme.

 As well as reading the IB authorisation / evaluation report it is important for the Coordinator to review the programme as a whole to identify any gaps in the practice and room for improvement in the delivering the curriculum. This provides an up to date analysis of where the programme stands against the recommendations in the last report, highlighting strengths that can be shared within the programme as well as finding areas where improvements is needed.

 Working with the Leadership Team to review the state of the programme.

 It is vital to work with the leadership team when obtaining an overview the school, as this will allow you to make an action plan that can be realistically implemented within the school`s context, taking into account the culture of the school, staffing, budget and whole school initiatives that have already been put into place. Many of the practices I put into place are shown and explained in this website. These practices do not finish with the evaluation visit and self-evaluation, as by design, they are the start of the next five years of programme implementation.

 When considering ways forward and solutions to issues it is important to work with the leadership team when proposing any changes or new additions to the programme and to make sure that all staff to feel included and supported in the implementation of new ideas. An example of this is the inclusion of all staff in the updating of school policies and the system of inviting individual teachers and departments for feedback on changes that have affected them, both in departmental and private meetings.

 Working with the leadership team I was able to move the programme in a direction where structures could be put into place to improve performance against the IB Standards and Practices. It also ensured that the initiatives were in line with the school’s vision. Members of the Leadership team may represent different programmes that are running within the school, so it is important that the initiatives for the Diploma Programme complement them. It is vital that the leaders of each programme work together to ensure a smooth transition between programmes as well as having a shared understanding that will allow them to be able to implement cross-programme / whole school initiatives.

 Working with teachers to review the state of the programme.

 Throughout any process of change, the Coordinator must ensure that teachers are fully supported, coached and lead through any changes that are needed, and then sustain this support throughout the subsequent running of the programme.

 When bringing in new ideas and leading teachers to adopt practices from the IBO guidelines, it is important that the Coordinator is seen as an active leader who is fully involved in the process rather than giving top down orders from afar. Teachers need to be aware of the vision. New ideas need to be fully explained and justified—this does not mean that all are going to agree with everything you put forward but it is appreciated by all if the leader fully explains the reasons behind the new initiative, and, at the right times, opens it up to debate. Including all in the process is vital. This can come from discussions in whole staff meetings, to one on one chats, or taking on board ideas on how to improve the initiative, or recognising when you have missed something out. A strong DP Coordinator is not afraid to reshape the conditions for teaching and learning within the programme but must also ensure that all feel both informed and included, as well as having a voice that is listened to and respected. 

 Being an active coordinator has regularly entailed me creating new initiatives and documents support them. In doing this I have made sure that I am a hands on and willing to put my initiatives into practice. Before introducing a new initiative or document to support staff I have run it past colleagues and tested it in my own classroom practice where possible. When introducing new formats for unit planners, for example, I make sure I created a supporting document for the staff and filled in an example unit planner from my Theory of Knowledge curriculum to demonstrate what it looks like in reality, rather than simply stating what I require from staff and letting them get on with it without support.

 Initiating change through the curriculum would not be easy or desirable without making myself available to support staff based on their individual needs. As coordinator I have worked closely with staff to identify and utilise each teacher`s strengths and work closely with them on the areas where they need supporting. When initiating change the coordinator must be seen by staff as approachable for support and guidance, even if the new initiative has been explained to them before. In the Evaluation process (which is discussed in detail here) for example, I had to treat each of the meetings with one subject teacher who was struggling with the process almost as though it was the first time the evaluation had been introduced. Different teachers have different experiences and skills and the coordinator must work with teachers as individuals, taking on board their working style, strengths and weaknesses and how best to make the process accessible for them, both as an individual and as part of the larger programme. A key to leading the curriculum is to work through an idea with teachers, explaining my prepared examples and helping them on the issues they find difficult. Depending on the situation, this can be done with the coordinator at the front of the meeting, demonstrating relevant examples to staff in workshops and training sessions, an open classroom policy, departmental and one to one meetings, so they can see the theory in practice, and how the new curriculum changes look like in a real classroom / school context. This is, of course, similar to the role we take as on as teachers with our students. Education itself is lifelong learning and we will always be faced with new ideas and changes, and the role of the Coordinator is to make sure the staff is fully supported, and any changes that are being implemented are fully explained within the school`s context. Implementing changes and putting systems into place which can be seen as changing a status quo that staff are comfortable with can bring with it its own issues. As Coordinator I have made never asked staff to do something, or take on an idea that I wouldn`t do myself in my own teaching practice. Indeed, trailing the new idea in your own class, or with a working party, allows you to see its strengths and weaknesses and allows you to be in a stronger position to answer staff queries related to it.

 It is important to remember that staff you are coordinating will have a wide range of experiences and skills, both inside and outside of the International Baccalaureate.  Bringing in an initiative that is common place in one school or country may well be new to your present school and could well be the first time some staff, even very experienced staff, have experienced it in their career. It can also be the case where you are working with staff who have got a lot more experience than you in the area. Both possibilities show the importance of the coordinator knowing their staff and having the leadership skills to ulitise their expertise and best support them on taking on board new ideas, and in some cases, new ways of inside and outside classroom practice. I have made it a priority to look carefully at the different experiences and skills in the teaching staff, and have adapted the amount of support and documents that they need accordingly, as well as using their exemplary practice to help move ideas forward.

 The Diploma Programme, by its design is an ever-evolving programme. As well as changes to individual subject guides, in my time as DP Coordinator the International Baccalaureate has updated all three parts of the core, made changes to the points needed to obtain the full Diploma and introduced sample unit plans and Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATLs). This has led me to create a variety of ways in supporting staff in implementing the changes. The introduction of the Approaches to Teaching and Learning into the Diploma Programme, for example, has led me to implement them into lesson observations, teacher trios, student reports, student target setting and collaborative training sessions. All of these are shown and explained in this report.

Some staff take time to fully understand or take on board new initiatives while others can implement and move them forward straight away. I have taken time to create support plans to help support the staff to make sure they are comfortable in delivering the initiative in a way that is best for them and their working style. I have used the skill base of the staff to guide me in pacing the changes I need to bring in and in the amount and type of support I need to give.

My yearly focuses, which I created to lead change can be found here.