2 crucial lessons to help your district manage change

There are a number of old sayings about learning to understand another by walking in their shoes, moccasins, or sandals. Since those sayings cross quite a few cultures and were even turned into an Elvis Presley song—“Walk a Mile in My Shoes”—maybe edtech leaders need to consider the concept behind the saying. When IT leaders make decisions regarding changes to systems, it is essential to consider the perspectives of the end users.

When I was an IT manager, the concept of change management was essential in determining when we would propagate upgrades or shifts to new systems. The migration from installed software to web-based applications like Google Apps and Word 365 have taken much of that control away from local IT leaders. However, the concepts behind orderly and thoughtful change management are still important and need to be given due consideration by IT leadership.

Timing is everything
For instance, when making changes to enhance security that may require two-step authentication, consider the best time to implement such a change. Most users will understand the need for enhanced security in today’s cyber-climate. Instituting a change that may separate a number of users from their materials would be best implemented at the beginning of a semester or over a summer break. Instituting such a change the Friday before finals week would be a poor choice and create undue hardship for users and the IT support staff who will have to deal with staff more panicked than normal when locked out of their accounts. Historically, we upgraded end-user software packages only during the summer or, if absolutely necessary, during winter break. We always believed that gave the staff and students the best opportunity to adjust to the new versions of the software.…Read More

It’s another year of change: Can you answer these questions?

[Editor’s note: This is the 13th installment in Jennifer Abrams’ ‘Personal Development’ column for eSchool News. In her columns, Abrams focuses on leadership skills for anyone working in a school or district. Read more about the column here.]  

Here we go: another opening, another show. The school year has started. The new ideas are ready for rollout. The excitement is present.

Are you ready? The roll out of new curriculum, the alignment of assessments, the instructional strategies that we will do with more fidelity, the intentional overlays of social emotional learning practices, the opportunity for something new… the list continues.…Read More

How to champion change in your district

Change is an ongoing exercise, and in schools and districts, every year is marked by shifts. Some of those are major, some minor, but there is little doubt that we are constantly dealing with change.

Surprisingly, it’s one area on which we don’t have a good grasp. In fact, when asked about having a change model in place, very few districts identify a specific approach but do identify long-term change as an ongoing challenge.

There are many ideas about effective change out there, but most of them come from the business world. I’ve used information from several business change leaders in my own work, and much of that is valuable and applicable; however, there are things unique to education that don’t always apply in business.…Read More

How do I share something challenging with my supervisor?

[Editor’s note: This is the seventh installment in Jennifer Abrams’ ‘Personal Development’ column for eSchool News. In her columns, Abrams focuses on leadership skills for anyone working in a school or district. Read more about the column here.]  

Almost everyone of us has someone we work with who is “above us” on the hierarchy. A principal, a manager, a department chair, a director, an assistant superintendent, the boss. These people work with us, but also have the role of providing supervision or holding us accountable for our progress. So we are in some ways, at some times, intimidated by them.

It is hard to share a truth or give your feedback to someone who you feel is “above you.” And yet, those who are on the ground doing the work have valuable insight into the inner workings of a school, a perspective that needs to be heard, and we need to provide our input. How do we do so when we feel it might be a challenge to hear our feedback? A few tips:…Read More

Does your school have a growth mindset when it comes to change?

Want your tech rollout to be successful? First, you need the right mindset

Most educational organizations want to improve teaching and learning by leveraging technology. The terms blended learning and its subset, flipped learning, are touted extensively as useful educational goals.

However, there are a number of fundamentals that need to be in place in order to increase the likelihood of organization wide success. This contrasts with the success of the “lone experimenters”; the innovators and early adopters who will implement change no matter what the environment is like.

Fundamentals fall into a number of categories. I will consider one — mindset — in this article. Two previous articles examined infrastructure and leadership.…Read More