In my work helping school leaders lead change, one of the biggest challenges a leader and their team often faces is the behavioral shift required to build and nurture the human ability to change. Many schools and districts are working on implementing strategic plans that seek to transform the industrial ‘one size does not fit all’ model of education. If these plans stand a chance of being implemented, it’s vital that the adult behavioral shifts are discussed, understood, and nurtured – all in service of the vision laid out in the plan.
These are the most common behavioral shifts I have noticed in my work with leaders and teams:
|Mitigate risk||Embrace risk|
|Exert control||Distribute autonomy|
|Have answers||Ask questions|
|Stay within departmental lines||Work across departmental lines|
|Clear roles||Ambiguous roles|
|Value and prioritize what we assess||Prioritize what we value and figure out a way to assess it|
|“Don’t rock the boat”||Push back when and where it is necessary in service of the vision|
Does this resonate with your own experience? Are there shifts you would amend or add? I often think of the above as a continuum. Some situations might require us to lean more towards the left-hand column, and some to the right; but for the most part, the cultural norms of the industrial model of education lean heavily towards the left of the above figure, and we need to build our collective capacity to live more in the right-hand column.
At the core of this work of education transformation is adult transformation. The majority of us were raised in the old industrial system of education and we find ourselves in the dual role of hospice worker to the old way and midwife to the new (Leicester 2013). It involves a shift away from the mental model of “How do I manage change resistance” to “How do I build change resilience?” – and when we do that? Well, then we have a real learning organization on our hands – schools that learn.