Leaders: Change Makers who Empower Change Agents


 

US DOE

Change is spoken about in education more and more each day. Herein lies the problem: Talk and opinions get us nowhere. We need to stop talking and spend more energy acting. Education has to change dramatically, but how this is initiated should no longer be a contentious topic for discussion or debate.

Many people agree that the structure and function of most schools across the globe no longer meet the needs of students in the digital age. A quiet revolution is gaining steam as more and more teachers and students push back against the very policies and mandates forced upon them. You need to decide whether to conform or to carve out your own path to provide your students with the education and learning experiences they deserve.

It Starts with You

Meaningful change always begins at the individual level. This is also where it is sustained so that it becomes embedded in the school or district culture. All educators and students must realize that they have the capacity to lead change. School leaders support this work by removing barriers to the change process, eradicating the fear of failure, providing autonomy, and empowering teachers to drive change at the classroom level. Your hardest but most gratifying work might be empowering your colleagues to change.

To help your colleagues see themselves as change agents in education, try these strategies.

  • Real change comes from colleagues modeling expectations for others. Lead by example even when it might be a lonely practice initially.
  • Share current research and practices that support the change you are championing.
  • Encourage colleagues resistant to change, especially administrators, to attend professional learning opportunities with you. Get them involved in quality professional development related to the change effort. Beg, barter, or plead to get your colleagues to attend and learn with you. If that doesn’t work, make sure you present what you learned at any recent learning experience either during a faculty meeting or one-on-one sessions.
  • Tackle fears head on to alleviate concerns.
  • Help others see the value of the change on their own.
  • Clearly articulate how the change will improve professional practice, resulting in improved student learning and achievement outcomes.
  • Be patient. Treat each colleague like a student and remember how satisfying and rewarding it was when you helped that student succeed.
  • Get your students involved. Schools should be designed to meet the needs of our students, but if they are not given a seat at the table and allowed to be a focal point of change efforts that ultimately affect them, you’ve missed a golden opportunity. There is no better way, in my opinion, to convince others to change when educators can see firsthand the impact it has on kids.
  • Work on building better relationships. This can open people to embracing change that they might otherwise have resisted.

The role of a change agent is to provide relevancy, meaning, and authenticity in the teaching and learning process. It hinges on our ability to provide an environment and activities that unleash our students’ passion for learning and allows them to create artifacts with the tools of their choice to demonstrate conceptual mastery. Additionally, it relies on a bold vision to grant students and educators the autonomy to take risks, learn from failure, and then adapt as needed. Meaningful change will happen only if we begin to give up control and establish a culture built on trust and respect.

Never underestimate the power that you have to make your school, district, and the entire education system better. Be the change that you wish to see in education, and others will follow. After all, real change comes from colleagues modeling expectations to others, not from those with titles.

Either we walk the talk of change or we should stop talking. Words without action is called: rhetoric!

Leaders: Be change makers who empower others to act as change agents paying it forward!

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