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‘Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change’ Shelley (2012) (p.199.) As Shelley (2012) observes change can seem like a whirlwind to those who embrace it. Conversely, change can seem obstinate and is something that pushes us out of our comfort zone. Change can be a response to new behaviors/practices, new beliefs, and understanding. Reflecting on my profession as a teacher in an outstanding school, change happens frequently within the school and nationally with responsibilities and expectations changing with increasing speed. In context, my establishment is part of a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) with the school being the leading school. My school’s policies and procedures have been rolled out to other schools within the trust with success with regards to Ofsted ratings and exam performance; however, has attracted mixed views from original staff members to the change and how it was implemented. I am part of the design and technology (D&T) department within my school and in 2015 we had a large department of nine members with years of experience. Certain subjects within the department were failing in regards to poor exam performance, lack of innovation, poor pupil progress and behavior. This was picked up by the leadership team through the Raise Online report for the school and a review was held for the department at the start of the spring term.
At the end of the summer term, seven of the team left to other schools. This creates an interesting topic of the management of change to critically analyze, how well it was received, how well it was delivered and what changes could have been made to support the path of least resistance to the change, which unavoidably needed to happen. A number of external factors also steered the change with the encouragement of the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) a heavy emphasis on traditional academic courses which is having an effect on the rest of the curriculum such as design and technology alongside faculty budget cuts. This assignment will review research and reflect on models about managing and leading change and analyze it in relation to the departmental change that happened within my school. It will reference personal experience of receiving the change with a balanced viewpoint looking at why the change had to be implemented whilst observing the resistance to the change from staff members. There are many different drivers of change.
Fullan (2001) calls it an “A Remarkable Convergence” meaning that with change, certain factors appear that have come about independently but are harmonious. His framework for leadership model shows five themes in particular: moral purpose, understanding change, developing relationships, knowledge building, and coherence making. Contrariwise from an educational viewpoint, Gilbert (2006) identifies in the 2020 Vision Report from the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) the five key drivers of change in education: demographic, social, technological, economic and environmental. Further supporting the technological change driver, Manning (2017) article ‘Out with the old school? The rise of ed tech in the classroom’ suggesting that schools now spend £900 million on education technology every year and that it’s making a +4% alteration in simple digital abilities for young people compared to 2015. This change is having an impressive effect on young people. The advancement of technology in education is exciting with D&T being one of the advocate subjects.
Conversely, the Design and Technology Association (DATA) (2017) suggest that: ‘insufficient use of 21st-century digital technologies are being used in some secondary schools’ and there is ‘inadequate funding for resources, equipment and consumable materials’ in many schools. It also links to the economic driver of change by suggesting that the UK’s rise from financial struggle is showing substantial areas of weakness, predominantly relating to skills shortages. The change in government focus on education is having some impact on creative disciplines and has an influence on my experience of change in my establishment. Gratton (2017) suggests that each of us has to appreciate and admit that our working lives will change over time and that the change cannot be predicted signifying that we need to be open to the idea of continual reworking. Change is the only constant. Additionally, Harvey (1982) suggests how an enactment of a strategic plan is so important for having an organizational structure, advising that strategy is vital when implementing and receiving change. Need for change can be a response to political and global changes, organizational and institutional change or even personal change.
The Kubler- Ross Grief Cycle (1969) looks at stages in which we deal with grief. It could be argued the amount of time spent on these stages can vary and that the passive stage could be harder to move on from however the model can be applied to situations of change. Furthermore, Lewin’s Three Stages of Change model (2004) compliments the Grief Cycle by looking at dismantling an existing fixed mindset by unfreezing and leaving your comfort zone. The emphasis could be that of the arrival of new realities. This is where effective leadership recognizes and understands the new realities. Beerel (2009) p.12 implies that new realities often emerge in ‘covert and intricate ways’ and always have a ‘systematic impact’. This means that in order to appropriately recognize and understand new realities requires ‘adeptness at systems thinking’. It could be argued that the system might not be the best descriptor when first posed with change as change can feel disorganized without the right leadership. Organisations should manage it tactically and not be overcome by the certainty of change.
Fullan (2001) acknowledges the potential for innovative discoveries when change unnerves a stable environment. With these situations, people might feel confused, deskilled or even if they have a moral purpose feel deeply distressed. This can lead to a resistance to change resulting in an implementation dip (possibly to performance) as Fullan goes on to suggest. Without the focus of education and directly looking at the stages of change, resistance to change is to be expected and happens for many reasons. Individual resistance might be down to mental mindset, with Ford, J, Ford, L, D’Amelio, A. (2008) proposing that ‘resistance is an irrational and dysfunctional reaction’. However, Fullan (2001) advocates that when things are dysfunction or irrational as Ford, J, Ford, L, D’Amelio, A. imply, new ways are found to move forward and to create improvement not possible in stagnant institutes. ‘It is impossible to change organizations which do not accept the dangers of their present way of doing things.’ Harvey-Jones (1993, cited Hannagan, T 2008).
Organisational resistance might seem a threat to power or influence. Boyatzis R E (2002) five discoveries looks at the impact of change and self-reflection. This could be an effective model for starting the change process through empowerment and long-term vision. This model seems to take the coaching slant on implementing and managing change with perhaps could be seen as particularly effective. Kanter (1984) observes that resistance to change might bring more work and real pressures with a loss of control. Consequently, Morrision (1998) focuses on addressing resistance to educational change by identifying the kinds of threats and problems posed. He highlights that building trust and playing on people’s strengths whilst commissioning a task analysis might be the best systematic approach, which endorses effective leadership.
Smalle (1996) believes that some resistors to the change will vacate, which relates to my situation, whereas Beerel (2009) concedes that sharing the new realities to others, meets with their resistance.
Fullan (2008) advises adopting a fervent, honest and sincere approach to change circumstances through communication.
Likewise, Senge (2012) recommends ‘Team Learning’ approach and suggest ‘pilot groups pursue successful school change’, proposing that managing the change steadily and introducing to small groups first might be a success. Communication is an important contextual part when implementing and managing policy and change. This synopsis of theory questions, what’s the best way to manage change? Like Senge (2012) suggests possibly implementing it to pilot groups first might be crucial to it being successfully implemented.
Strategy and systematic management have also recommended being crucial to effective change to policy, Harvey (1982). Correspondingly, Fullan (2008) Six Secrets to Change, with the first secret being ‘Love your employees’ seems to disputes this secret by stating ‘charismatic leadership is negatively associated with sustainability’ (Leading in a Culture of Change 2003). Instead, he proposes that default strategies don’t work may often escalate and increase resistance. So what is the best model to use to manage change? The Organisational Iceberg (Senior 2002) model offers a formal and informal organization. This Titanic metaphor suggests there is an undercurrent to be aware of for informal organization such as values, behaviors and informal grouping.
Goals, strategy, and structure tip the formal organization iceberg with both creating an organizational culture. It can be argued that people can be reluctant to change the organizational culture as there is an emotional stake in the philosophy, which could be why it is so hard to implement change. Furthermore, with regards to an emotional stake, Schein’s Model of Organisational Culture (2004) proposes that central to organizational culture is basic assumptions, then values and then artifacts and behaviors. Basic assumptions to an organizational culture could be detrimental to any type of proposed change as there is indeed an emotional stake. It could be put forward that basic assumptions are often taken for granted and are ‘invisible’, the unspoken rules which might get overlooked when thinking of implementing and managing change and policy. This is an interesting point that I feel links to my experiences with change which I will later debate. Whilst reading about the management of change, there are some emerging themes, a values approach to change. ‘The important task for the educational organization is the reconciliation of value systems so as to achieve a clear statement of aims and beliefs to which a large majority of stakeholders can subscribe and to which they feel they have a commitment…’ Everard KB, Morris G & Wilson I (2004) p.17 They are suggesting that a values system underpins an organization (whether that be a department or whole school) and that the values of an individual should align with those of the organization.
Furthermore, Fullan (2001) advocates how change should be armored by an uncompromising, moral purpose to encourage essential commitment to the establishment. However, on page 25, he submits how moral purpose can be ‘problematic because it must contend with reconciling the diverse interests and goals of different people’. This begs the question, how would you overcome this difficult task if you wanted to implement change? Once the change is identified or the new realities are discovered, communication, forging interactions and engagement seem likely to be the fundamental themes to ensuring all interests, goals, and barriers are supported by the organizational change. To further support the change, knowing the local context or background could also be influential to effective execution of change.
Fullan (2001) p.64 discusses how Toyota have been praised for their ongoing learning culture and compliments them on how they select and cultivate managers. He also talks in 2008, citing Liker and Meier (2007) p.11 that the single paramount difference between Toyota and other organizations, is the depth of understanding among Toyota employees regarding their work. Knowing their staff members and local culture promotes an interest and a collaboration that can be brought into. This could suggest that when change is implemented, because of the interest in local culture and the individual, the change can be met with less resistance. This leads back to having an emotional stake within the organization as the relationship has been built, you are essentially ‘buying in’ to the change. As previously mentioned, pilot schemes are a motivating pitch to drip feed change into organizations. If the organization has a strategic leadership team, the groups can be tactically picked to see how they react to the change. This could lead to less conflict when change is implemented the whole school by investing in small groups first then capacity building. With each model that is selected, there are some evolving themes. Change should not be done to people but with them and this could be argued that strong leadership, communication, organizational culture and shared values and mindset are paramount. Experience My experience of change within my educational setting was on reflection thought-provoking, it needed to happen however hostile.
As a result of the change, the organizational culture had inevitably been transformed with the need for rehabilitation. This is where I picked up the role of Head of Department and my journey to rebuild the department started. However, I am going to discuss the change that happened to me previous to becoming a middle leader, the change that led me to this position. I was a newly qualified teacher that was part of a nine-member D&T team in an outstanding school. One subject in the department was not performing well whilst another subject was coasting and lacking innovation. This had been happening for a while as staff members had been there for years. To conclude, the change was due and the school leadership team picked up on this and knew it was time to change the way the department did things as the results weren’t sufficient. Furthermore, it has been debated within the school that there was an EBacc driven agenda, a further disincentive for subjects like D&T, behind the force of the change, supported by DATA (2017) that for a school to be measured ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted from September 2015 they need pupils to do well in EBacc subjects.
The change to improve performance in all areas should have been done collaboratively, with strong moral purpose, communication and supporting members of the team who was being affected the most. It started with the whole of the team in a room with leadership. The dynamics down to the arrangement of the tables for seating arrangement was quite intimidating, with leadership on one side and the department on the other. We were then posed with funneling style questions with the old Head of Department mostly chairing our responses. Some members of staff stalled and avoided questions whilst others responded directly and honestly. It is interesting on reflection that the members of staff that had been underperforming was very quiet during the meeting signifying they were comprehending the result of their underperformance. There could have been possible feelings of guilt or resentment. Leadership sought answers and thinking about how they proposed the change, would one on one meetings have been better? To have all of the department in one room made me feel like I was being ‘tarnished with the same brush’, though is it possible to differentiate a group of people as being ineffective and not be critical about it? Once the meeting was over, the department felt deflated with that underlying feeling that things were now going to change. There was an unnerving sense in the department with people feeling vulnerable about their jobs and position. With this sense of fear, Fullan (2008) p.9 ‘When people fear for their jobs or their reputation it is unlikely that they will take risks.
Fear causes a focus on the short-term to the neglect of the mid or long term. Fear creates a focus on the individual rather than the group. Teamwork suffers.’ And that is exactly what happened. Short term was focused on with Year 11 results achieving baseline grade or above. Lots of monitoring happened from leadership which questionably could have been implemented better without the immense pressure on certain members of staff. Targeted staff members had lesson observations with non-constructive feedback, discussions in the department started to happen that there was an agenda and that sense of moral purpose didn’t sit well with me. However, it is possible that the leadership team interpreted that intervention as providing a vision, but for whatever reason, the departmental staff didn’t agree with it. Fullan (2001) implies that leaders with moral purpose offer guidance but they can also get it wrong if concepts are not tested through the crescendos of change. As a result, the leadership team lost the backing of most of the department as we felt under pressure additionally in conjunction with the movement away from an Ebacc subject.
Members of the department second guessed that they wanted to downsize the section with yet another contextual factor of knocking down the building where design and technology were based in space of a new English and Maths block. Arguably, these rumors (however true they now were in hindsight) and the loss of seven staff members at the end of the summer term, could have been avoided with better strategic communication from leadership. Managers could have mapped those affected greatest, recognized allies and identified those likely to repeal the change. Leadership strategies that might have been more successful could have been the self-directed learning approach suggested by Boyatzis (2002) five discoveries: If this was presented with the unavoidable new realities, this might have been a better approach to have taken by leadership to implement the change.
Empowerment might have resulted in less disengagement, relating to Fullans (2001) point of fear and not taking risks and neglecting long-term vision. Invested time into the underachieving staff members and provision of support and guidance might have been the better approach than that of damaging pressure and strict monitoring. This might have resulted in relationships staying the same however just with a change of task.
Fullan (2001) suggests that leaders in a culture of change value and almost enjoy the pressures intrinsic in addressing ‘tough to crack’ problems because that is where the ‘greatest accomplishments lie’ and it could be suggested that this was the case in this situation. It could be further claimed that this was relished too much by some members of the leadership team though morally and throughout the professional teaching standards in schools, good things are enhanced by all-around satisfaction and eagerness about going further with great pride felt for all in the system (Fullan 2001). We expect our leaders to provide solutions however we do place leaders in untenable situations and in order to lead the change, you need to understand it fully from all perspectives, with a lot of contextual factors. Innovation, appreciation of implementation dip (Fullan 2001), addressing the resistance and empowerment is fundamental to managing change policy, with long-term vision considered.
Beerel (2009) suggest that weak leadership might repel unpleasant new realities, ‘preferring to deny or ignore that these exist.’ If new realities are dealt with, people prefer to deal with ones that are hopeful or favorable and this was the result of my situation, the situation wasn’t addressed early enough due to contextual factors affecting the change. It could be disputed that my old Head of Department felt uncomfortable to deal with underachievement due to strong friendship and loyalty to staff members. Perhaps we should add that people implementing the change might also feel not assertive enough to lead the change due to many influencing factors.
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