In the education system, making lasting change is extremely difficult. Become a pro at leading colleagues by showing them how to manage change.
Adjusting to changes in education can be a long and, at times, difficult process. While focus is placed on ensuring students easily transition — as it should — teachers are often left to adjust on their own. Though students are the priority, if the concerns of teachers aren’t recognized, educators can’t be expected to properly lead children according to a new structure or policy. If teachers don’t feel the change is worthwhile or being implemented properly, they will reject that change and revert to old ways. Cultivate camaraderie through understanding and relationship building among teachers and administrators by working together to manage change in education.
1. Come Together
It might seem teachers and administrators are heading in separate directions when considering change, but it’s important to remember that everyone is working toward a common goal — ensuring the highest quality of education in a safe, supportive environment for all students. In order to effectively work together to manage change, teachers and administrators should meet for an open discussion to eliminate any animosity, prejudices, or misunderstandings. Only after letting go of resentment and cultivating harmony will teachers and administrators be able to move forward as a strong unit. After all differences have been resolved, continue to meet at least one day each month for discussions regarding changes that are currently being implemented and others that are in the early stages of development.
2. Reach Out to Parents
Though it might seem that less is more when teachers and administrators manage change, parents want to be involved and crave transparency in their children’s education. From reaching out on the first day of school to hosting a gold-star-worthy open house, teachers should include parents during every step of the school year. Collaborate with administrators and fellow teachers to draft correspondence to parents, outlining changes and asking them to share feedback. For extra credit, encourage parents to join school faculty for a meeting to discuss how to effectively manage change and work in the best interest of students.
3. Identify Weak Links
During the process of implementing new policies, identify the weakest components, such as the least popular aspects, or those that could easily be misunderstood. When coming together for the monthly meeting (see the first point listed above), discuss these issues first, as they will be some of the most difficult to work through while trying to manage change. Consider the importance of these weak areas and ask, “Do these concepts benefit students?” and “Will these issues help the faculty reach its goals?” After asking these questions, everyone should consider the positive points of the policies and methods to maximize benefits, or revise those that seem to offer no advantages.
4. Spotlight Special Guest Education Stars
While it might seem unrealistic to expect busy education leaders and policymakers to visit a small school, it can’t hurt to aim high and invite them to speak about how they manage change. Research decision makers who are supportive of education and extremely invested in programs to properly prepare students for the real world. Invite these leaders to speak to school faculty and extend the invitation to parents. Inviting local district and state legislators to discuss education policy is another effective method to efficiently manage change and ease any uncertainty.
5. Continue to Lead
Every movement needs a strong leader. If no leadership exists in their schools, teachers should take steps to become that person their school needs. Not only will teachers find that this role allows them to connect with colleagues and the community, they will become greater role models for students. Yes, educators are responsible for ensuring children grasp curriculum, but many children look up to and remember teachers whom they viewed as strong, positive leaders. One important point to remember as a leader is that this role requires a diplomatic voice who can manage change by working in the best interests of all students.
While students don’t always understand how the politics of adults influence education or could affect the cultivation of their potential, remember to include them as much as possible. In terms students can understand, try to explain changes and encourage discussions regarding these topics. When working with colleagues and parents, be sure to include some of the student feedback as a way of remembering the main reasons it’s necessary to manage change.