Briefly describe how you will initiate, manage, and evaluate the change process in the school where you will be principal.
I think that in order for change to be implemented successfully, the first and most important step is to establish relationships between the administration team and staff. As an administrator, my first goal will be to create relationships with my staff that are built on trust and mutual respect. I also plan to be as transparent as possible to help my staff learn to trust me. I want to make sure that I share my vision with them so they understand what I am trying to do and why. This way when a change is needed, I have already laid that foundation, and my staff will be able to trust and know that I am initiating this change for the right reasons. I believe that having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset will allow change to take place much easier. I plan to model to my staff what a growth mindset is and encourage them to shift towards a growth mindset as well.
I don’t believe that any one person can be responsible for the change. In order for the change to happen and be a sustainable change, the administrator will need to have the support and cooperation of all stakeholders. In the book, School Leadership and Administration, Gorton and Alston reference Hall’s three leadership styles; initiators, managers, and responders. I hope that my leadership style will be that of an initiator. I plan to, “have clear goals that include implementation of innovation.”(Gorton and Alston, 2012) I will also place high expectations upon the students, my staff, and myself. I see my role as that of the agent of change and if I truly believe that a change is needed to ensure that we are providing what is best for our children than I will be committed to seeing it through no matter what.
I think the best way to ensure that this happens is also through those mutual, respectful and trusting relationships with others. If you have these, your staff will believe in what you are trying to do and want to help you implement the proposed change. I also think if you have those relationships with others, even if they don’t completely agree with your decision or idea, they will still respect your decision and maybe even take a leap of faith with the new idea or initiative. By spending the critical time of getting to know my staff and building relationships, I also feel like I will be able to assess the likelihood that my staff will accept the proposed change as well as how well they will handle the change.
The first step in initiating change is to diagnose the problem. This can be done through a variety of ways. As an administrator, I plan to make it my business to know what is going on in my building at all times. A good administrator is hands-on and constantly evaluating what programs and activities are happening and whether they are beneficial or not. Administrators can also do a needs assessment periodically to survey the stakeholders to find out what they see as areas of concerns.
Once it is determined that a change is warranted, I will meet with my school improvement/leadership team to get their feedback and ideas on how we should proceed. This team of people will be hand picked by me and be a diverse representation of my staff. This will be my brainstorming and problem solving team as well as my cheerleaders who will help get others to “buy in” with what we are proposing. Once we decide on the avenue we plan to take, we will be sure to evaluate the proposed innovation to make sure it is appropriate for the needs of our school and that it will be one that we think will be a success.
The next step will be introducing it to the rest of the faculty and working towards implementing the change through gaining support and minimizing resistance. Change is a process and is not something that can happen over night. The staff needs time to learn about the proposed innovation and have the chance to give their feedback. I will establish opportunities for this and make sure they know and feel heard. In the article, The Change Process in a School Learning Community, author and college professor, Marsha Speck notes that “change to a new educational idea is a destination, but helping individuals see the need for change makes change possible. Deliberate planning for the change with the individuals involved will make the difference in the implementation of the change and and will help sustain the efforts.” (Speck, 1996) Speck also shares that time must be given for research about best educational practices and time for thoughtful discussions. Workshops and in-service trainings are great for introducing concepts but change requires the opportunity for discussion, modeling, practice, and coaching. (Speck, 1996 ) I think professional development will be a critical piece to help the staff understand and implement the change.
Once the change has been implemented, I along with my school improvement/leadership team, will continue to monitor how things are going and reassess and revise our plan whenever necessary.