A Digital Evolution can be revolutionary for your school district, but are you ready to manage the change?
Adjusting to change can be difficult. “But what if … (insert unknown)”. “Well, what about…. (insert another unknown)”. Changes can also often create resistance, dissension, and can also lead to delay or failed change implementation. Most people would rather muddle along maintaining status quo than come face-to-face with the unknowns.
In education, change can come with its own special set of challenges due to countless changes that are oftentimes outside of your control and this can lead to staff feeling like change is something happening to them as opposed to something, they are a part of. Plus, with added pressure from community leaders and parents, lack of funding, staff, and resources, it can seem like change never ends. But with all the work that must be fit into the day, school districts are often overwhelmed with change initiatives, new programs and new protocols. Plus, these are rarely accompanied by additional resources and are often mandated by outside agencies who assign seemingly arbitrary deadlines.
So why would you want to introduce more change by overhauling your digital technology?
Despite our fears about change, if nothing else 2020 has taught us all that 1) change is inevitable, 2) we are much more resilient than we think we are, and 3) we will make it through the unknowns.
Change Management in Education
Change management in education can be defined as the methods in which a school or school district describes and implements change within both its internal and external processes. This includes preparing and supporting staff, establishing the necessary steps for change, and monitoring pre- and post-change activities to ensure successful implementation.
However, with change management in education, there may be rules around who is permitted to perform what kind of duties and what staff members are allowed to take onfor projects and hours outside of their regularly scheduled responsibilities. Even when everyone agrees that change is in order, the strict regulations on how money can be spent in a district can make it difficult to find people to lead these projects because there might not be significant funds available to incentivize the extra work.
Steps to Change
So how can these changes be managed while reaping the most benefits and avoiding the pitfalls? There are many recognized models around change management, but how these are interpreted and implemented in each school can vary wildly. Regardless of your school type (i.e., secondary, or elementary), there are some key steps that can be considered if you are to successfully introduce change.
Harvard Business Online suggests that there are 5 critical steps to Change Management:
- Prepare the organization for the change
- Craft a vision and plan for change
- Implement the changes
- Embed changes within the culture and practices
- Review progress and analyze results
Communication is Key
Out of those five crucial steps, the one that can impact the rest of them the most is preparing the organization for change and the way you prepare them will be through communication.
The first introduction to your school districts of the idea of change and how well it is done, can make or break your success in terms of achieving ‘buy in’ from your staff.
A key step in mapping out a communication plan is anticipating what may be the concerns of your administration and teaching staff when they first hear about the change. In any planning scenario involving communicating with your staff, you need to consider all possible responses and ask yourself the following questions before commencing:
- Why are we proposing this?
- What are the possible negatives (and how can we offset them with positives)?
- Is there a timeline for implementation and can we be flexible on this?
- What if I meet with strong resistance – is this change a must-have, or nice-to-have?
The above answers will strongly influence how you can communicate in a particular situation—good or bad.
Open dialogue about the challenges and opportunities should hold you in good stead, allowing you to sell the benefits of the change, demonstrate that you are aware that there may be negative elements that you have given thought to and how they will be managed, ultimately resulting in the change moving forward.
Once a final decision has been reached, an implementation plan should be clearly communicated to your administration, teaching staff, as well as parents, suppliers, and should also include timetabling, responsibilities, impacts and contact people in the event of any issues.
A Change from the Traditional
Edsembli Ecosystem is a change from the traditional. As a cloud-based software solution, providing a seamless experience across all streams (human resources, payroll, finance, and student information systems), automated efficiencies, student demographics, customizable reporting capabilities, secure audit trails, and compliance functionalities, all while being built by schools for schools, Edsembli Ecosystem is a change worth investing in.
Digital transformation is about changing attitudes and the empowerment of educators, parents, and school leaders to fully realize the benefits of digital technologies and the schools benefiting most from digital transformation will be open to the change.
Contact an Edsembli specialist today and book a demo to discover how they can guide you through a digital evolution.