The Peloton Model of Change

There’s a lot of dialogue going on about how our schools need to change and has been for some time. I have some posts here about this but my thoughts of the last while have been about how? The challenge for schools is around developing a whole new culture of learning and how to achieve it.
One way to gain some forward movement is to adopt a model for change based on the cycling peloton – a bunch of riders who band together in a race. I believe this analogy can be used as a model to radically transform your school.


Peloton is a french word that means ‘little ball’ or platoon and is used to describe the pack of riders that form a main bunch. It can often be part of a cyclists strategy to use the peloton as a form of saving energy during the race that they can use later on. Here are five ways a peloton can help us achieve some amazing momentum in changing our schools.
1. The riders in the front do most of the work.
Cyclists who ride at the front of the bunch take the full force of the wind ahead. They have to work hard and put in some amazing effort but they’re also the ones who get an amazing sense of satisfaction from their work.
The teachers who are in the front are often asked, ‘Where do you find the time to do all of this?’ They will usually reply that it doesn’t feel like extra work because it’s their passion!
2. The riders in the back of the bunch take the draft.
The riders who take the draft don’t have to make much effort to keep up but they benefit from the work from the leaders. They are ‘drafted’ along – but importantly, in the right direction.

PJS_9528_pelaton


Teachers who may not be driven to innovate and explore new methods of teaching still benefit from the actions of their colleagues. They will often start using new methods of teaching and learning, once they have seen them in action from the teacher next door.
3. The peloton uses the strength of the group to catch up the breakaways with collective speed.
There is incredible momentum when the group works together, driving the lead riders on to a long term, sustainable forward force.

Leaders can see change in their schools by resourcing and supporting the innovative teachers in their school. This can be in the form of equipment, release time, leadership positions and simple encouragement. When we give support to these leaders in these ways we also validate the methods and direction for our schools in a way that all teachers recognise.
We could be giving 20 minutes of each staff meeting to have them showcasing some innovative teaching practise in their class. Other teachers will start to ask, ‘Why are some teachers being given equipment?’ Or, ‘Why did she get promoted?’ We can all put two and two together.
So – do we want to see change in our schools? I’d suggest that we identify our lead riders and resource them to drive our schools in the right direction.
Two practical ideas…

– Could you invest in a couple of classrooms with more digital tools than normal – call it a pilot project. I think sometimes we spread our technology really thin across a school to gain a sense of ‘equality’ when really we’re giving resources to teachers ‘riding in the middle’ who might not use it.
– Could you start sending some staff members to conferences (give them some extra release time) in the knowledge that they will pedal even harder when they return and drive your school further?
(Photo right bottom – Flickr.com, Old Shoe Woman)

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