Originally posted on August 16th, 2010
With the new school year fast approaching, many educators have grand ideas about changes they would like to take in their approaches to teaching, to leadership and to connecting to other educators. I experience this every year, but I find the years where I do make some significant changes to my practice and other key goals, I have made careful preparations in some key areas. Today I’m going to focus on improving leadership within a school community, and 5 ways this can be achieved and maintained.
- Create new structures. If your leadership style has always focused on top-down meetings, plan a new agenda before the first day of school. Make it a template including collaborative time and key discussion points, and review methods on how to facilitate meaningful discussion. If you have a ’2010-2011 template’ and stick to it, every meeting will have the change you want built into it. This is not saying you can’t revise the template if things go better or worse than expected, but use a template and don’t throw it out to go back to the tried and true you are used to.
- Don’t change the world. We often feel that if things aren’t going the way we expect or want them to, we need to abandon them altogether. Focus on specific areas in your team and community that are very effective and refine approaches or add a couple of key strategies, don’t try to do it all. If there’s one thing that is repeated more than any other in terms of educational change, it’s that change is slow. You have a much better chance of getting the results you want if you start small and build on your successes than if you ‘rock everyone’s world.’
- Change from within. Stephen Covey states in his change theory that ‘change occurs on a broken front.’ Not everyone on your team will be where you are with educational change, and some may not want to change at all. However, as you begin to reflect on your role as a leader and take different approaches, those who are at the same place in their educational practice will gravitate toward it and change with you. Those who are not, may take some time to come around.
- Model great learning and teaching. If you expect teachers to make positive changes, they need to see it in you. Set yourself as the example, team teach, be visible doing what you’ve asked others to do. A lamp at midnight attracts everything in sight, a hammer does not. Be a beacon for your team and they will use your example to model their own behaviours on. By nature we take the path of least resistance, so seeing what change looks like before acting on it makes sense.
- Recognize positive growth; often. Ensure that as the ‘right’ things start happening, you recognize the efforts of those who have made it happen. You’ll find that those who want recognition will work harder for more of it, and push others as well. A great recognition structure is one of the hallmarks of great leadership, so again plan this carefully before the school year begins. It always pays off!
There are many other tips and tricks to instituting change in an organization. What are your favourites? Better yet, let me know what you are going to (or want to) change in your school this year, and how you are going to do it.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!