So much has been written about the importance of “transformational” change in health care, schools, and criminal justice. Seeking fundamental changes quickly in how institutions operate is dramatic, visible, and garners media coverage. Too often, however, glowing rhetoric exceeds actions.
Making small changes, for example, in how health care for millions of previously uninsured Americans is delivered and paid for is undramatic and often goes unnoticed. The Affordable Care Act–Obamacare to many–is a prime example of an incremental change in health insurance for more Americans that is both important and substantial. The current “repeal and replace” political rhetoric promising dramatic changes in the Affordable Care Act that will “transform” health insurance remains, as I write, just words.
Similarly, claims for “transforming” changes in teaching and learning through “personalized learning,” robotics, and virtual reality are, well, still magical incantations that have yet to transpire in most U.S. schools.
But small changes in schooling can accumulate and help students learn. Teachers spending more time with individual students and increasing teacher collaboration are less visible, less media appealing changes. Setting aside time in daily schedules when children and youth can interact with teachers outside of lessons sounds so procedural, even trivial to starry-eyed reformers yet remains significant to individual teachers and students because those adult-student relationships are at the core of learning.