For those of you who are hearing Governance as inquiry for the first time, you can read what it is all about here.
For those of you who have heard me talk about Governance as inquiry you will know it has been a while since I have written any updates on where we are at. This is due to a healthy dose of reality that reminds me of the importance of alignment and shared understanding when implementing change.
Everything was moving along nicely after our staff and board got together to co-construct the model and frame the first inquiry. However things were about to change. At a meeting shortly after there was confusion, apathy and resistance all in one room. Where did all of that come from? I think this is a normal part of change, when the talking moves to action it can get hard for people. A natural reaction to this can be to jump into advocating your position or coercing people into going along – but this never ends well. So, much reflection was needed and new way forward to be generated. It turns out to go forward we needed to go back. We needed to slow down and truly get a shared understanding of exactly what Governance as inquiry was and what it meant to all of us. We all come from different backgrounds varying from a very good grasp of inquiry to knowing next to nothing.
I put a few slides together for a board meeting to describe and discuss the differences between learning as inquiry, teaching as inquiry and Governance as inquiry. Slowly we started to get our head around the what and why.
The main difficulty lay in the two objectives we were trying to achieve. One was to create a new way of reviewing curriculum areas so they were deep and resulted in lasting change and the other was for us as a board to inquire into our own practices. We needed to be clear that these were two different things (because a review can include how the board is performing in an area, but this is not the same as the board inquiring into its own policy and practice).
Can the model service both objectives? We are in the process of answering that now. We have iterated the model and the numeracy inquiry is underway. We have a small group of people who meet to gather feedback on how the model is performing. It is apparent that one of the biggest challenges to implementing change is the value that is assigned (perceived or otherwise) to that change. What mental models do you have around inquiry? Is it an add on perceived as extra work or is it viewed as a challenge that extends thinking and improves your practice?
Our next steps include making the Governance Inquiry model dynamic so it is easily shared and modified. As the board moves through its first inquiry we need to be mindful not to rush through each phase and default back to tick boxes.
Whilst it can be frustrating when progress is slow, it is far more important to keep the big picture of authentic deep learning and sustainable change in mind. Sometimes we have to go back in order to go forward together.