One Sentence Grant Program

September 11, 2016

One of the biggest challenges I’ve noticed in implementing meaningful change does not involve the dwindling dollars our classrooms and schools receive.  The biggest challenge I’ve encountered involves empowering the people involved in the process of change.  I don’t think any change in education can be meaningful if it leaves the professionals who are impacted feeling diminished or on the sidelines.  In other words, relationships and innovation are inherently linked.

 

Some questions I continue to reflect upon are:

 

How can we lead meaningful change in a manner that brings people together?

 

In what ways can we support innovation from a budgetary standpoint?

 

My new book, “Renegade Leadership” contains countless stories from educators across the country who are committed to change for the benefit of our students.  Interwoven throughout these stories are ten leadership traits that create traction and trust when leading meaningful change; transparency is one of those traits. 

 

Transparency involves:

 

  • Making the vision clear

 

  • Making our intent known to all stakeholders

 

  • Leading with genuine humility while owning past failures

 

  • Inviting others into the mission

 

 

As I continue to reflect on how I can empower people to lead change in a manner that’s meaningful to them, I’m convicted of my own past shortcomings.  I’ve maintained a line-item in our school budget reserved for “innovation” the past couple years.  This always allowed me to support teachers with additional resources if they had an idea they wanted to try.  The problem was that the process and concept lacked transparency, so only those teachers who approached me with ideas benefited.

 

I’ve since turned the idea “inside out” so everyone can benefit.  This past Spring, I reached out to our staff to collect ideas and requests that would support student learning, literacy, innovation, and effective practice in general.  The goal was to give everyone a voice and option to make a quick request.  We called the approach “One Sentence Grants.”  To make a request, all a teacher had to do was literally send me a one sentence e-mail explaining what they needed to support their work.

 

The requests poured in and we were able to fund nearly everything that teachers requested.  By making the process more transparent everyone was included, and everyone had the option to participate.  We were able to support requests ranging from collaborative furniture, robotics kits, books, shelving, cork strips, tools for our MakerSpace, and so much more.

 

Feedback from teachers has been very positive thus far, and it reminded me of an African Proverb:

 

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” 

 

If you’d like to connect with other educators who are committed to meaningful change, please sign-up for the Renegade Leadership Voxer book study HERE.  If you’re interested in purchasing the book you can order it from Amazon HERE.

 

I’d love to hear how you are leading change in your classroom and school.  How are you leveraging the limited resources you have available to make a difference for kids?

 

 

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Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 

 

Connect on email at:

AdjustingCourse@gmail.com

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