“Education is the key that unlocks the golden door to freedom.”
—George Washington Carver
I am aware that I have a thin threshold for change. Anybody else with me? I find security in the way things have always been done. However, I am willing to be one of the biggest advocates for change if the change is necessary and profitable. Change has the potential to hurl people or organizations into turmoil when change is sought from personal motivations more than from a truly warranted need. Giving attention to certain elements of change, such as having a guiding coalition for the change, creating a vision and strategy, generating solid communication, and seeing short term wins in order to fully back change, is beneficial for a school to achieve desired goals. Unfortunately, the elements needed often are neglected as part of the change process.
Having admitted a low tolerance for change, I acknowledge I have an affinity for efficiency, so when I see inefficient systems and procedures, I am quick to want to see changes in those areas. I enjoy building efficient systems for curriculum development. I find that the work of curriculum development within schools falls prey to the pitfalls of change, and it is critical that a school’s leadership thinks through the strategy of change to accomplish the long-term goals of curriculum work.
I have had the opportunity to conduct small, multi-step changes with the end goal of a larger change for the school’s curricular program. We identify this as leadership. I also have had the opportunity to direct change through planning and budgeting, staffing, and problem solving. We call this management. There is a specific differentiation in the definition and purpose of the areas of leadership and management. Both domains are fundamental and play distinct roles in the success of promoting and sustaining change. Schools will need to take the time to map out the leadership of curriculum development as well as the management of curriculum development. This is vital.
I have seen time and again where schools spend time and energy on curriculum development only to see that the initiatives are not followed well in the classroom, and what the school leaders thought was being accomplished didn’t stick. I would submit that much of that occurrence is rooted not in understanding how to make change, but more importantly in how to make change stick. I recommend researching and adopting a specific change model to help support any change you want to make as a school, but specifically when it comes to the time and effort for curriculum development work. Change models such as the ADKAR Model, The McKinsey 7-S Model, The Knoster Model, Kotter’s 8 Step Model, and others are all useful constructs to help solidify change. It is important for a school to utilize a model which resonates with the culture of the school and can be implemented effectively. If it is worth the energy to do the work, it is worth understanding how to make that work serve the school in a lasting way.
As an added thought about change, I think most of us have things we would like to change for ourselves. The Christian life incorporates a preparedness for change. We should work towards change that is void of our self-centeredness and that moves toward God-centeredness. This process of change in our Christian life is called sanctification. The gospel of Jesus Christ makes this change achievable. Change and growth does not always come easily, and most of the time it is through difficulty that change is prompted. Just as personal growth and change are crucial in our individual lives, growth and change in school organizations are also critical. We must be deliberate and disciplined about making changes in the right way for the right reasons for them to be permanent and beneficial.