This course module examines the process of change required when implementing reforms across the whole school, impacting not only educators and learners, but the school community.
Lasting and meaningful change requires a set of conditions that strongly increase the success of the process (Fullan, 2007; Lieberman, 1995) including:
- A collaborative culture that fosters professional learning
- Instructional practices that are relevant to and fully understood by teachers and students
- Instruction that is directly linked to the needs of individual students as well as the school community
The establishment of these conditions relies on a clearly communicated vision and the proficiency of the leaders planning and administering the change. Educators must accept their role as change agents, leading the process through negotiation, nurturing, teaching, effective communication, and content expertise. An effective change agent is an individual who upholds and models these practices, having a deep understanding of how interpersonal processes affect change (Rust & Freidus, 2001).
Fullan (2002) defines two key processes of initiation and implementation. Initiation is the process of decision making and action leading to the adoption of change, and implementation is the first experiences of putting change into practice, typically throughout a period of the first two to three years.
It is important to understand that what has worked in one school may not work in another. The uniqueness of each school will present critical factors and the change leader must be fully aware of the needs, demands, and characteristics of the learning institution as well as the internal and external influences that continually shape it.
Special attention must be paid to educators. Teachers must feel supported and included, without fear that change will unduly increase the complexity and difficulty of their work. However, change should not be limited by an unwillingness to take on difficult tasks. Hargreaves and Fullan (1998) suggest “moving toward danger” by drawing outside forces into a collaborative alliance with the school. These forces include district and other jurisdictional leaders and resources, consultants, members of the school community, and anyone or group that can positively support and influence the desired change. In courting external allies, the school leader must recognize that collaboration and the forming of alliances does not happen without dedicated time and facilitation.
A school can be blown along by the winds of change, or make meaningful progress following an intended course set out by dedicated leaders.
The course includes a series of assignments in which you will create or update a vision for a safe school using Restorative Practices, and begin the process of designing a schoolwide implementation plan including a guide for practitioners.