The OECD defines educational innovation as the “introduction of new products and services, processes for delivering services, ways of organizing activities, and new marketing techniques to improve the provision of education based on the social and educational objectives as measured by stakeholders.”
As leaders in educational technology, this definition excites us! It also motivates us as we are constantly looking for new and more efficient ways to do things in our schools. However, not everyone is excited about ‘new’, even if it is more efficient. Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable.
Michael Fullan , implores us as leaders to drive this change, “To accomplish lasting reform we need leaders who can create a fundamental transformation in the learning cultures of schools and of the teaching profession itself”.
Change and innovation is uncomfortable for so many, particularly for those in the field of education. We like our objectives, measuring outcomes, and perfecting the process. We have no time for the implementation dip. Furthermore, winning over the home team can be an even greater challenge for a leader. There is a larger degree of skepticism, criticism, and even negativity when attempting lead the charge for change in your own environment. Much of this is due in part to familiarity with those around us and a comfort level with those we work closely. Thus, when embarking on the process Fullan, suggests five characteristics a Change Leader should exhibit:
1) Moral purpose
Exhibiting moral purpose involves a deep responsibility to the educational environment and outcomes through devotion to students learning and continual attention to the health of the school community.
2) Understanding of change
Understanding the change requires us to navigate ideas, both good and bad, to select and implement what will work in our context
3) Continual work on improving relationships
Create and improve relationships requires us to invest time in hearing people, understanding their perspectives, and setting a climate for change
4) Creation and sharing of knowledge
Continuing to learn demonstrates growth for your staff, making space and opportunities for them to do the same
5) The role of coherence maker
Maintaining perspective and context of an outcome focused on student learning keeps a leader aligned to the educational objectives of their school environment.
With the growing importance of innovation in schools, it is vital to understand and contextualize our role as leaders.
We understand the need for change but it must only be undertaken with a clear goal and understanding of our role as leaders. Identifying these will set us on the path to implementing ‘fundamental transformation in the learning culture’ of our schools.