In 4 Things Change Leaders Do Well, Douglas Ready outlines successful transformational strategies for the corporate world. And I believe they are just as applicable to education.
1. Recognize Embedded Tensions and Paradoxes
For every push in education, there is a pull. Many of our highly effective teachers (and our parent stakeholders) are the products of a system that is rooted in the 1890s. When we talk about changing the system or that the system is "broken," we need to be mindful that it did work for many in a different time and space.
In addition, identity is often at issue. If we propose something as a "change," we may unintentionally be inferring that the "before" was bad. It may be better to look at transformation as an improvement, without any judgment on past practices. To paraphrase Maya Angelou, when we know better we do better.
2. Hold Everyone Accountable
Not only does everyone need to be engaged in the transformation, but they need to be accountable for its success, too. Great change leaders set and communicate clear expectations, and provide ample support to reach those expectations. Celebrate successes, and don't let anyone off the hook. Accepting bad behavior is the quickest way to kill an initiative.
3. Invest in New Capabilities
What new talent, processes, or systems do we need to be successful? As we hire new teachers and administrators, what qualities and skills are we looking for to take us to the next level? Do we need new processes and systems to ensure that this occurs? If so, let's get them in place. We don't need more "managers," we need authentic instructional leaders at all levels.
Once we have the right people in the right spots, are there other strategic investments we need to make vis-a-vis "hard" resources?
4. Emphasize Continuous Learning
No one knows everything. I repeat: no one knows everything. And in a field as dynamic as education, even if you did, you couldn't keep up with new knowledge. Educators need to feel at ease with asking for help, and admitting when something is not known. You know, just like we tell our students ;)
Hiring top-notch instructional leaders is only the start. We must invest in the professional learning of all educators. Not the one-offs that are fun and make people feel good for a half day, but the real, deep, sustained job-embedded learning that truly challenges and changes the way educators think and act.
Join the conversation...
What do you think? Are these strategies applicable in education? How might you be the change leader your school needs?