With the overall structure and function of schools remaining unchanged for nearly a century, there is a great deal of work that has to be done. This, compounded with the onslaught of reforms and mandates enacted by individuals that have no business in education, make the process of enacting change much more difficult. The current education reform climate has just exasperated the proliferation of schools as testing factors where students’ learning, an intricate science, is reduced to meaningless numbers. Change in this sense is not positive, but how we respond to it will ultimately determine the fate and success of our students.
This leads me to the point of this post. Conversations about change are a dime a dozen. Within these conversations an endless array of opinions are dished out about what needs to change. In about half of these same conversations, suggestions are offered up as to how to go about implementing the change. Opinions, suggestions, ideas, and even strategies are great to discuss in theory. They all make for great conversational catalysts where even more people will engage and respond. However, offering opinions and stating what one thinks should be done to change anything in education falls short of the intended outcome. Real, meaningful, and sustainable change capable of transforming school culture and professional change comes from taking action.
Leadership is not about position, but rather the actions that we take in our respective roles. Each and every one of us has the capacity to lead if we so choose, but initiating sustainable change hinges upon our ability to move from the talk and rhetoric to actually doing something. The process seems simple to those who get all caught up in the talk, but change leaders know full well the challenges associated with what may be the most difficult thing to do in education. Change leadership focuses on these specific elements:
- Identification of the problem and articulating why the change is needed
- Development of a plan of action to provide stakeholders with a sense of how to effectively implement needed changes
- Ensuring all support structures are in place to increase the success of the initiative so that it becomes sustainable
- Implementing the plan through action and monitoring the process throughout. It is so important that we model the expectations that we have for others so that change is embraced
- Evaluation and providing indicators of success. If the change process fails then reflection is paramount in order to improve the plan
Think about these elements the next time you engage in a conversation about change. If you are in a position to do so, how will you help others become change leaders to help create schools that work for kids as opposed to ones that have traditionally just worked well for us? The world is full of opinions, but lacking in the definitive actions that are needed to transform teaching, learning, and leadership. Be the change that you wish to see in education through action.