Safeguarding readiness-new normal at schools
In order to prepare for the new normal post Covid-19 lock down, educationists, have accelerated transformation by restructuring their work.
Research indicates that those that successfully transform with rapidity, scale and sustain impact, over time have the following in common: they are
Have a readiness for disrupting the existing model and building a new one.
Commit to a significant change in terms of policy and attitude for growth.
Focusing relentlessly on capability building.
Putting together a winning leadership team.
The most important link in this chain of change cycle for schools is the importance of taking teachers’ emotions into account, leading to future-ready learning. Bringing teachers around to the need for change is one piece of the puzzle, it is equally important that parents support the direction, in which the school intends to move. Importantly, school leaders who are hoping to make significant needle movement must first understand and tap into parent emotions to ensure that these key stakeholders become advocates for future-ready learning rather than a potential hindrance.
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, says, we are at the beginning of a revolution that is changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. Intelligent robots, Self-driving cars, Neuro-technological brain enhancements, Genetic editing, the evidence of dramatic change is all around us. We now live in a time of great promise and great peril.
Hence it is imperative for school leaders to gear up for the challenge and make decisions displaying a deliberate calm, high optimism and communicating effectively. It is natural for leaders to panic in the early months of the change process as most of the times, some teachers push back confused and fearful about the changed scenario.
Parents as important advocates for future-ready learning rather than a potential hurdle:
As parents are one of the key stakeholders, it is important to move parents from a place of fear and anxiety to a place of positive emotions. This can be achieved when schools demonstrate empathy, compassion, and respect for parents and their perspectives and make a conscious effort to make learning visible to parents. Creating opportunities for parents to experience the learning themselves is likely to generate positivity, leading to a buy-in from the parent community.
The emotional necessity of change management:
When embarking on any change process, It is essential to keep in mind that teaching as a profession is essentially emotional in nature. The bonds that teachers establish with their students and the affinity of student-teacher interactions has to be an important consideration during the transformation process in schools. The bond between the students and teachers is also the reason we find teachers invested in their work to the extent that their personal and professional life, kind of merge. During major change process when teachers are not included in a way that they should be, they experience a strong sense of lack of control in their work. Constant reforms without having a strategy to manage the emotions of the teachers and sometimes the principals, lead to increasing negativity and a rise in teacher’s stress levels, which arises in part from a sense of grief caused by perceived threat to teachers’ sense of identity and their inherent beliefs and values, leaving teachers/principals feeling undervalued.
It is essential to orchestrate change leadership in schools to ensure that teachers’ emotional responses to the change suggested are heard and incorporated to the extent possible. Finding ways to respectfully communicate the needs of the teaching process to be on par with latest needs, research and the nature of our fast changing world, is essential. Validating what is happening in the classroom and designing the change one step at a time towards the ultimate goal is an essential process.
Execution – getting things done:
Generally only around 15 percent of individuals in any organization are early adapters. For the others to come on board it is likely to take a long time. Providing the space for the staff and leaders to share and reflect upon their fears around change while encouraging individual ideas about opportunities they see ahead has been the most successful strategy for change.
Transforming the teaching-learning space is a messy and stressful business. As new policies start getting implemented it is most likely for the leaders to panic as the team gets confused and start creating barriers for progress. By understanding their fears, and supporting them in every way possible, the team will slowly transform.
While everyone is concerned about the well being of the teachers, students and parents and other stakeholders, most organizations miss understanding the stress, the principals take on. It is most important to support the school leaders with proper emotional, operational and strategic support for their roles for any strategy to be successful.