Perfect My Practice: Leading and Managing Change

Our school recently started using an online roll marking system. Boy, did it create waves amongst the teachers. Just like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For many teachers it was huge, overwhelming, devastating and shocking. You mean we use a computer to mark the roll? I’m not intending to trivialise the terrible events in Japan however I think for many of them they just could not get their head around this idea. They didn’t trust it. They didn’t believe that anything could work any better than the tried and tested method of the paper roll.

Me, I wasn’t particularly fussed. A roll is a roll and as long as it’s marked that’s fine. I guess, being younger, I’m a little less afraid to try things on the computer.

Anyway, the reason I tell this story is because it hasn’t been going all that well. Not through any fault of the teachers but rather due to technical issues. It has certainly put everybody’s enthusiasm for the idea a little on the backburner. To counteract this there has been much from our leaders in the way of encouragement and “talking up” the whole process. It was this that made me think about what we were looking at in the Team Leadership Program a few weeks back:

How well do you lead and manage change?

In reflecting on this I have found that I am mostly a person who spends most of her time responding to change. In the work environment I tend to respond to change really well. In my personal life, not very well at all 🙂 Have I ever lead change? I don’t think so. Perhaps unknowingly. This is something I have come to realise could be true.

In the forefront of most teacher’s minds as being one of the biggest changes in the school environment is technology. With technology being so prevalent in the classroom and the speed at which it is changing so rapid, I wonder how we feel about our changing role as teachers with the pace at which we already work and the expectations being placed upon us.

I know that before I did the Edublogs Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge in January I felt completely overwhelmed by technology and the masses and masses of resources that were out there for me to use. I couldn’t grasp how they could be used in the classroom nor did I want to dedicate any time trying to work out how to. The challenge helped me harness all of that and see that technology doesn’t take away from the core business of teaching and what the student’s learn but that it really does just help engage kids differently. I guess “the penny dropped” for me as they say.

It was my initial response to technology, “I couldn’t grasp how they could be used in the classroom nor did I want to dedicate any time to work out how to” that made me realise I was also turning into one of these teachers who resist change. I couldn’t see its purpose. If I had kept this thinking up I would potentially have become the kind of teacher I never thought I could or would ever be! I can’t believe how many teachers think like that and how unwilling they are to try things.

One of my favourite mottos in life is “Act despite the fear.” My absolute mantra really. I feel that people are so restrained by their fears I wonder if they achieve anything that they desire sometimes or whether or not they just live with a whole heap of regret.

All of this made me think about how I would lead change. Rather than just write and complain about people’s lack of ability to engage with change on this blog 🙂

We’re leaders in our classrooms and we’re leaders in educating people about the importance of education. I get all ideological at this point and start imagining that if we all had some of the qualities of an effective leader we’d be onto a great thing.

What do you think are the qualities of an effective leader? How well do you respond to change in your school environment? How well do your colleagues respond? Have you lead change in your school? What was the experience like? How do you think teachers should respond to the changes facing us in our jobs?