can connect with them. Like-minded individuals
(in our case, the Los Angeles Audubon Society)
often seek others to partner with, but they need to
know you’re out there.
n Look for research that supports your work.
Sometimes one’s passion for change can appear
to be subjective, but there may be solid
research to support your vision.
Share this research with your
community to validate the work
you’re about to undertake,
especially among those who
may not initially understand
n Take others with you on
the journey. When I began
this work in 2008, I wanted
to make sure my superiors and
stakeholders were onboard. I never
wanted to be ahead of them. I invited
my immediate supervisor and a representative from the district’s facilities department to
our campus to illustrate the need for this project
and to answer their questions.
I also provided opportunities for teachers, students, and parents to be part of the work. When
decisions needed to be made (for example, “Where
should we place the fence?”), I sought advice from
those around me to build trust and ownership.
And I frequently remind stakeholders, “This
habitat belongs to you.”
n Not everyone will see what you see. And that’s
OK. After all, if everyone shared your passion for
change, it’s likely the change would have hap-
pened already. Find ways to connect with those
who are reluctant to jump onboard. Humor can
be a wonderful way to lower the tension. “I’m at it
again,” I’ll say with a laugh, which often leads to
conversations about why we’re doing this work.
n Document, document, document. Change shows
up in the darnedest ways. Memorialize as much of
it as you can. A student might say something that
indicates your methods are working, or a parent
might suggest a project to build on your change.
A teacher might say, “You’ve got to come over
and see what we’re doing!” Document it all. And,
of course, keep an eye on more formal
data. How is your work improving
outcomes like student attendance,
academic achievement, parent
participation, and school
n Celebrate. As you and
your stakeholders build
momentum, take time to
celebrate your successes.
Celebration is rewarding for
those who worked alongside
you; it communicates the good
news to others and helps move the
work forward. We routinely commended
our community’s work with events like the Science
+ Art Conservation Celebration and the annual
yellow-rumped warbler arrival contest.
n Be prepared for the work to lead you to
unexpected places. A change project may seem
linear at first. Yet the work you take on can lead
you to unexpected new challenges—and rewards.
This is, in fact, one of the best reasons to begin.
When I started out as a brand new teacher 26
years ago not far from here, I never could have
predicted that anything but concrete would be
possible for a campus in these parts. Yet here on
my campus in the heart of Los Angeles, I start my
day hearing students’ detailed firsthand accounts
of dragonflies and warblers. They see their
surroundings in a whole new way, and so do I. ;L
Brad Rumble is principal of Esperanza Elementary
School in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.
Not everyone will see what you see. And that’s OK.
After all, if everyone shared your passion for change, it’s
likely the change would have happened already. “ “