A very good teacher friend asked me to answer some questions for an instructional technology class she is taking. The questions are centered around being an “exemplary change agent” and change management in education. They are tough. I thought I’d share my answers and would more than welcome any input from other edubloggers. This might be good to add to the “overcoming obstacles” wiki.

1. Respond to this quote: “Change is complex; everyone is an agent of change” How are you an “agent of change”, and why do you think this is important?

Change is complex because many factors are involved. It can occur slowly or fast. Change can be a little or it can be a lot There is no pat answer as to how to effect change. There is not always agreement on what is successful change. So defining “successful” change is difficult, especially in education.

Change has many facets and can occur when you least expect it. A change agent is someone who causes change and that could be intentionally or unintentionally.

I try to be an “agent of change” by blogging about changes I think are important in education. I also try to model the use of technology that puts our students in the center and in a place where their voice is heard as they learn to be effective communicators. I try to be open and flexible to avenues that open around me to share aspects of learning and technology that I believe will benefit our students and educators. I think this is important because we are in a period of massive change in our culture. We need to be working together to create a new culture of learning and teaching.
2, Why is change important in education?

Change is important because of our current outmoded paradigm of education. Traditional models of education are built around the teacher being the expert and the one that dispenses knowledge to students. Curriculum is delivered mainly through the lecture mode. We are teaching from textbooks that in many cases are outdated as they go to print. This has to change before technology can realize its promise. The fact that we are networked and connected to virtually all the written knowledge in the world and have it available in our classrooms and homes requires that we embrace and define a new definition of literacy in our digital age. We have to understand how to use it in our schools.

Another major problem is our current high stakes testing requirements that are the main basis, really the only basis, currently for evaluation of learning and teaching. Teachers will never be motivated to embrace technology if their evaluation is based on test results that don’t give any value on how to access, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize vast quantities of information. Yet, these literacy skills are the very ones we need to be teaching and learning in this informational age. An outdated educational system and a method of evaluation that promotes the continuation of that system have to be changed before technology can ever begin to realize its potential.

In addition, the limited staff development available in schools has focused on the computer, not technology’s role in learning and teaching. We do not have the support systems in place for educators to begin reconceptualizing their role to enable learning with the aid of technology. There is no priority in place to provide teachers the time to develop an understanding of how technology can transform the way we teach and learn.

The traditional teaching model must be revamped where the lecture mode is not predominant and critical thinking and application is the desired outcome, not regurgitation of facts. Educators need to be involved in designing this kind of learning. We need to work with colleagues, both in our school buildings and beyond. We need chances to learn from one another’s successes and failures and to share ideas and knowledge worldwide. Students need the same opportunities for learning through these connections. How we access, use, and communicate information is changing daily. We have to be stakeholders inng process. learning process.
3.Many people are resistant to change. How can change, whether with the curriculum, staff turnover, etc, be most effectively managed?

Change can most effectively be managed if leaders create a safe place to talk about what needs to change and why. A vision needs to be developed. Information from many sources should be collected and discussed. Educators need to be treated as professionals and their opinions valued. Leaders need to foster environments where educators can talk openly and candidly about real issues. Information needs to flow freely and the environment needs to be one where teachers can continually learn. Time for this needs to be a priority. The same safe environment needs to be available for students. Hearing the voices of the students will help. The message for all should stay focused on what works for the learning, a focus on the big picture and giving the stakeholders real ownership in creating solutions. Show models instead of lecturing. Continued reflection on the process by all is important.
4.How do you implement change when you feel it is needed? For example, if you want to implement a new program, teaching strategy, or activity, how would you go about it?

First, I would recognize professionally and publicly the excellence that currently exists in the teaching group.
Foster collegiality and teamwork.
I would try to make a clear and compelling case for what I am trying to implement.
Provide models that would show them results rather than just telling them.
Build in collaboration and reflection from stakeholders that is valued and discussed.

5.What leadership qualities are crucial during transitional times? How can effective leaders make change easier and positive for all those involved?

• Model the changes and behavoirs the leader wants to promote
• Make a clear and compelling case for the change
• Create a postitive climate of trust and openness
• Secure needed resources
• Provide time for learning how about if we took the time spent for tests and
• Good communication skills.
• Visionary outlook