Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Leadership and change . . .

I ended my last post sharing my thinking that our work is focused on change and the important role that leaders play in creating a culture where change is expected and demanded of the adults to meet the needs of our young people.  We have learned a lot about the change process over time and how difficult it is to implement and sustain at scale.  Asking those we support to examine their beliefs, to reflect on why and how they make decisions in the classroom and with colleagues, and to consider suspending the assumptions that they hold to be open to considering another way is not always easy, but it is necessary.

I have come to understand that individually we must become conscious of what drives our own behavior and be willing to let go in order to crack the door to a possible change.  In our work, we are asking teachers to consider an aspiration that describes for many a different way, a new road to a possible better place for our young people and for them.  Leaders must initiate and guide the conversations and experiences needed to crack the door and fill the space with the beginning of a shared aspiration that can close the gap between current reality and that new place.  It is this gap that can result in creative tension, that force that drives learning and the collaborative effort necessary for adaptive change.  It is this tension that also produces the experiences over time necessary for those involved in the change to experience, to see, hear, and feel how that change can create a better outcome for young people and for those engaged in the change initiative. In the absence of these experiences the change initiative will not take root and sustain over time, another challenge for those in leadership positions.

As Fullan says in Motion Leadership, the effort is not about discussing change, but about getting into it.  He tells the readers to beware of plans.  It is more about prototyping, trying things out and coming together to examine the data and make decisions on those structures that are supportive of positive movement and those that need to be discarded.  This is our current reality and I'm looking forward to continuing our leadership journey next week with the building leadership teams.

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