Leadership for Change – Part 2 – A Model for Large-Scale School Change

In Leadership for Change – Part 1, I introduced the idea that large scale school change, change that really redefines the way things are done in school, requires careful attention to implementing the right components in a thoughtful way.

In this post, I’d like to introduce a model for large scale school change: the Lead4Change Model. It tries to make clear the desired outcome, the critical components, and the supporting but necessary componenets.

The overarching goal within the Lead4Change model is Learning. Although this may seem obvious, it is surprising how many times the goal of an initiative becomes (either officially or in practice) about some other aspect: about the technology involved, about a program, about an organizational structure, or about a new curricular resource. There is no doubt that these might be important pieces or contributors to the initiative, but in and of themselves, they are not sufficient reason to do any initiative. Why bother implementing anything within schools if it does not help to move the mission forward, to further the learning of young people? Keeping this key desired outcome in the forefront of their minds will help change leaders make the right decisions while working on each of the other components.

Probably the best evidence of Learning are the future accomplishments of students. Unfortuately, schools don’t have the decade or more it takes gather this evidence. We can fall back on more conventional measures, such as assessments, grades, or student work. Other secondary indicators can be equally as useful: attendance, behavior, engagement, and attitude.

There are two Critical Components to the Lead4Change model: Leadership and Teacher Practice. These are the most important components of the school change model and need the most careful attention. All other components of the model are there to help these two be effectively implemented.

As pointed out in the Part 1 post, leadership is everything when it comes to school change. This critical role doesn’t necessarily need to be played by the superintendent or the principal, but the pieces of the Leadership component need to be evident within the initiative. These include building a common vision, expectancy, supervision for level of implementation, policies and procedures, a safe environment, and that change is someone’s job.

Where Leadership creates the necessary conditions at the school or district level for implementing the change, the classroom is where the rubber meets the road. Teacher Practice is the second Critical Component of the Lead4Change model. It’s pieces include engaging teaching, classroom management and planning, and level of implementation.

There are five Supporting But Necessary Components within the Lead4Change model: Funding, Partnerships, Resource Management, Branding and Buzz, and PD for Paradigm Shift. Each of these is important to a well implemented initiative, one that successfully changes how schools work and therefore the amount of learning that takes place there. But it is important to remember that each of these five is in service to the Critical Components.

Making large-scale school change requires schools o think differently about funding. As a component of this model, Funding includes these pieces: seed money, “we’ll find a way” attitude, savings from avoided costs, and sustainable and integrated funding.

Partnerships are key to successfully implementing change initiatives. There are three types of partners that assist with this work: cheerleading partners, pedagogical partners, and implementation partners.

Resource Management is all about providing teachers and leaders with what they need to successfully implement the change. This component includes having what folks need when they need it, “we’ll find a way” support, and that “stuff just works.”

Public schools aren’t good at marketing. They have rarely had to do it in the past; the really prestigious private schools are much better at it. But in this era of competing for shrinking resources, and needing to make some fairly substantial changes, schools need to focus on Branding and Buzz. Branding and Buzz includes naming the initiative, stating your case, communicating with your community and beyond, telling your stories, presenting your evidence, and dealing with controversy.

Large-scale school change often includes having educators do things that are outside their experienced base and that they have never done themselves. That’s why large-scale school change involves paradigm shifting and why professional development needs to be different than the kinds of training schools are used to conducting. PD for Paradigm Shifting includes models, play-debrief-replay, coaching, just-in-time support, and building a human network.

So there it is, the Lead4Change model. Learning is the key desired outcome. Leadership and Teacher Practice are the critical components. And the Supporting But Necessary Components include Funding, Partnerships, Resource Management, Branding and Buzz, and PD for Paradigm Shift.

In the future, I’ll blog about these components and some of their pieces. But in the meantime, does this model make sense? Have I missed someone important? What are your thoughts?

About Mike Muir

I'm an educator interested in collaborating with other educators on engaging all learners, proficiency-based learning, technology's role in learning, and leadership for school change.
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