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7 Steps to Successfully Implementing Change

In the last School Leadership Insights newsletter, we unpacked the importance of considering the 5 essential elements that leaders need to consider in planning for successful change. You can read that article here.

20% of staff are likely to LOVE the change that you have identified
20% of staff will HATE every change that is proposed
Leaders need to spend their time and energy ensuring the 60% in the middle come with the early adopters and successfully implement the change

  1. Choose wisely – too many schools try to implement too many changes at one time. Ideally you should try to prioritise a maximum of THREE big initiatives in any one year. It is much better to successfully implement THREE changes than try to do 20 things but not do them successfully.
  2. Keep the BIG Picture in mind – what is the intent of the initiative, what will be the benefit? What is the compelling reason WHY this change needs to be implemented?
  3. Involve key people in steering – it is important to ensure that key people are involved in planning the implementation of the change. Instead of thinking about what your ‘high maintenance’ staff are likely to say in complaining about the change, seek feedback and involvement of your ‘Superstars’. If your Superstars don’t think the change is a good idea or your implementation is poorly planned, they are probably right and you should reconsider.
  4. Get startedelephant eating 101! Getting traction is important and early wins help to build momentum. If it is a massive change then breaking it down into smaller ‘bite size’ pieces is important. Tracking your progress and making that progress visible is a useful strategy. The Priority Planning framework I outlined in December provides a great format for making progress visible. You can read more about it here.
  5. Build on your strengths – Identify and retain what you already do well. Whilst implementing change can be daunting for some, change processes don’t usually involve throwing out everything and starting from scratch. It is important to keep the change in perspective. Even significant curriculum changes still require us to retain the ability to manage a class, provide engaging learning experiences, build rapport with our students and a thousand other skills that don’t change, even when teaching new content or concepts.
  6. Expect the DIP and persist – after any change is started, things tend to get worse before they get better. For example, when we start using a new teaching strategy or utilizing a new technology, we feel that our teaching effectiveness declines. This ‘dip’ has become known as the Learning Pit. It is through digging our way out of the learning pit that we refine and develop our skills.
  7. Celebrate progress – most educators spend enough time celebrating our successes. I believe we have almost become wired to be negative. We are constantly on the lookout for problems eg students with learning difficulties or behaviour issues. Problem identification is the first step in problem solving. As a result, we don’t accept praise easily and can be somewhat dismissive when good things happen. Rather than accepting praise or celebrating our progress we can be too focused on the negative. Celebrating progress is an important antidote to change fatigue.  It is vital that we recognize and celebrate our progress to continue to build the momentum to embed the change as “that’s the way we do things around here!”