In educational leadership, school leaders are often faced with leading change. Some examples of changes school leaders face are: (1) introducing new systems or processes to support student achievement; (2) introducing a new instructional framework like project-based learning; (3) changing a K-5 math program; (4) shifting to standards-based grading; (5) changing a school’s academic schedule; or (6) renovating or building on campus. In each of these cases, as well as others, it is incumbent upon school leaders to fully understand why the change is being considered and what outcomes the school is hoping to achieve as a result of the change. If the task for shaping the change has been delegated to a larger group, school leaders need to stay closely connected to the change initiative so they understand its full ramifications. Ultimately, it falls on school leaders to communicate the change to constituents, students, faculty, parents and other interested stakeholders.
Effective communication of major change initiatives rests with school leaders. They must be able to connect the change to the past, present and future of the school in a meaningful and compelling fashion. Understanding and communicating the school’s history, will investing in the change fit with where the school has been and how it’s been shaped? Given where the school is today, will the change fit and amplify the school’s strategy to achieve its short-term goals. Looking at the school’s mission and vision, will the change strengthen the school’s potential to innovate for the future. Leading change involves explaining the context, the why.
Explaining context over time is a crucial part of a leader’s responsibility. The school’s constituents, students, faculty, parents and other stakeholders, want to understand how to connect the dots. They have a need to be involved in the change initiative because investing their energy in the school has to feel meaningful and worthwhile. Making this reality come to life is the responsibility of school leaders.
Think about significant changes in your school. Do you adequately understand the context for the change and have you effectively communicated the context to all your constituents? If so, the change will likely integrate well. If not, you probably will experience speed bumps along the way.