MLE, 1:1 BYOD programmes, Dispositional Curriculums, new Timetables, new SMS & LMS, GAFE or Office365. All ‘new’ ideas coming into schools across New Zealand and all ideas being slammed by people because of the poor implementation.
Speak to teachers at conferences or scroll through any social media and read teachers comments. You will find teachers questioning or slamming ideas because of how they have been implemented at their school or a friend’s/local school. Teachers absolutely have the right to challenge the ideas being implemented but so many of these challenges are not of the ideas themselves, it is actually about the way they are being implemented.
Not enough PD or time spent helping staff upskill and see how they can best use *insert new idea here* is not a fault of the idea, it is a fault of the change management.
To me, Change Management is the biggest PD need in New Zealand education at the moment. We live in a time of rapid changes happening in society and work in a system that is very slow at adjusting to these changes. This lack of agility in our system comes down to poor change management when implementing new ideas or structures in the past that has resulted in many being cynical of the ‘latest fad’ to arise or come back around again.
Mark Osborne from Core Education has run PD with us here at Hobsonville Point Secondary School around these very ideas. He introduced us to the Implementation Dip and spoke about the 4 things that need to be considered when making decisions in a school:
- student voice – I interpret this as community voice
- gut feeling – I like the word intuition here
The requirements for mindset change that he shared with us were far deeper:
- Purpose to believe in
- Reinforcement systems
- Skills required for change
- Consistent role models
One of the most valuable tools that I have been involved with for change management was the Circles that Julia Atkin introduced to us. Starting with the Vision in the middle, Principles surrounding these and then the actual Practices on the outside. This way, the focus always starts with the Why. I have heard many people talk about these as Golden Circles as Simon Sinek calls them. I would highly recommend reading Start with Why or if you need this quickly try his TED talk.
The deep focus on Why before moving onto what that might look like in your school is why I like Design Thinking as a process for change management. I have experienced this at HPSS as Di Cavallo led us in deconstructing the NZC to create our curriculum structures. The deep discovery/immersion/exploration of Why a new idea/structure is needed allows all staff to really get onboard with what is happening. By far and away the best resource to help you start leading change management in a Design Thinking fashion is Ewan McIntosh‘s book “How to come up with great ideas and actually make them happen.”
I have been privileged to work as part of a team led by great practitioners of change management (and even they would say they could improve in some aspects). This old post covers how in 1 week we were investigating design thinking, using the Circles and had Maurie introducing us to the GPILSEO approach to change management.
How Might We improve the change management practices of NZ schools? I believe we need to start with more professional development opportunities for all involved in NZ schools to investigate various approaches. Different change management approaches will work better in different school contexts. But how can we choose an approach if we have not had the chance to investigate them first?
I sincerely hope that, for the benefit of the NZ education system, we start seeing more workshops at conferences on change management. It can only help.