Misti Morgan & Dr. Wm. A. Kritsonis

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Misti Morgan & Dr. William Allan Kritsonis

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Misti Morgan & Dr. Wm. A. Kritsonis

  1. 1. The Six Secrets of Change at Work: A Case for the use of Fullan’s work in a school setting Misti M. Morgan PhD Student in Educational Leadership The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A & M University Associate Principal Spring Independent School District Spring, Texas William Allan Kritsonis, PhD Professor and Faculty Mentor PhD Program in Educational Leadership Prairie View A&M University Member of the Texas A&M University System Hall of Honor (2008) William H. Parker Leadership Academy Graduate School Prairie View A&M University Invited Visiting Lecturer Oxford Round Table University of Oxford, Oxford, England
  2. 2. Distinguished Alumnus Central Washington University College of Educational and Professional Studies
  3. 3. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ABSTRACT In my twelve years of experience in the public school setting, I have seen and practiced both good and bad leadership. Leadership characteristics are learned, many times from the leaders with whom you have worked, and that model forms our abilities to lead ourselves. While this model can undoubtedly leave an uneven sense of what effective leadership looks like, Fullan’s description of the Six Secrets of Change enables even seasoned leaders to gain perspective on what is really important in the life of a school, and with self-reflection, the possibility of improvement becomes real. Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to review Fullan’s Six Secrets of Change and postulate as to how the theories could foster school improvement at my current campus. Secret One - Love Your Employees Fullan’s commandment of loving your employees is at times, as difficult as loving thy neighbor. In my present experience of working with over 200 adults (teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, and administrators), loving our employees is not an easy feat. Opinions frequently differ, and at times, they can differ loudly. As the administrator charged with overseeing curriculum and instruction, I often clash with teachers regarding various topics, including grading standards, failure rates, and assessment scores. Never before have I witnessed a more interesting group of individuals! I find myself loving some of the teachers and parents who side with philosophy of placing students first, but there are others who challenge me daily. Fullan insists that we love them anyway. We should love them even more because without it any changes implemented will surely fail. Fullan insists that employees within an organization be treated with a combination of McGregor’s Theories X and Y, and this is a strategic directive. When leaders plan to implement change, often the change begins in their head or on paper. The next task of the leader is to enlist others to believe in the change he or she wishes to see. Without love for your
  4. 4. employees, a leader cannot enlarge his circle of believers, thus, the vision withers on the vine before it can ever be shared. I liken Fullan’s first secret to my present job because we are undertaking the process of moving to smaller learning communities. The faculty is being asked to stretch its concept of structure and beliefs, and the journey is sure to become an unclear one as we delve further into the idea of change. If the plan of smaller learning communities is to have any chance of succeeding, then faculty members must first feel that they are respected and cared for by their leader. One key concept that Fullan says even the greatest school administrators miss is that in their quest to put every child first, they overlook the fact that adults have to be treated with care as well. While the mission to improve student learning is always first and foremost, the key to attainment lies with teacher buy-in. As leaders, buy-in cannot be achieved without a genuine concern for faculty needs, attitudes, and perceptions. This concern differs from yielding; even though teachers need to be cared for, they don’t need to be catered to just to show them that they are loved and respected. Good leaders strike this balance and understand how to move people forward so that change can occur. Loving your employees is tough, but Fullan is correct to state that change can only occur when people feel most appreciated by their campus leadership. Secret Two – Connect Peers with Purpose Employees are at their best when they believe their work matters. Fullan is clear that in order to affect change, the workers within an institution need to be engaged in meaning collaboration. Teachers learn and grow from one another when their time is spent working on substantive issues that improve their practice. On my campus this school year, we have instituted a once-weekly, 150 minute professional learning time for teachers and staff. The purpose of the professional learning time is to discuss issues that are rooted in teacher perceptions of students, quality of student work, looking at failure data (six weeks grades and assessment data), and learning best instructional practices from each other. While teachers were first resistant to the idea of professional learning time (teacher’s greatest fear is that their time will be wasted), they have now embraced the idea because it affords them the opportunity to share with their colleagues in a nonthreatening environment and build common understandings about their campus and
  5. 5. instructional practices. Further, the work is more affirming because administrators actually implement teacher recommendations and change campus practices as a result of the work that is done in teacher work groups. Teachers feel both empowered and enlightened as a result of the work. Secret Three – Capacity Building Prevails In order for change to occur and be sustained in any institution, its employees have to be prepped for the change itself. Good leaders prepare their employees by exposing them to the components of the change long before the change occurs. The exposure comes in the form of honest conversations, professional literature with commentary, small group discussions, and external professional development for teachers. Further, leaders among the ranks (fellow teachers) are selected for the purpose of leading their colleagues. Capacity building for the teacher leaders comes in the form of leadership tasks and training that is designed to teach the leaders how to lead. Leaders should be careful not to place teachers in a position for which they are unprepared. Careful planning and follow through can ensure that teacher leaders are prepared for change when it occurs. Secret Four – Learning is the Work Often, teachers like to state that they “cover” material with their students. Yet, is “covering” the material the same as learning it? In my professional experience, I have seen that teachers frequently engage in covering information, rather than learning it personally. Our goal in improving teacher efficacy is to ensure that teachers actually “learn” material. How do we ensure this process? By having teachers to collaborate with one another, engage in relevant discussion, create a product or exemplar model of the concept, and then present the concept to their peers. Such deep engagement ensures that teachers have not only been exposed to the material, but that they are prepared to articulate this information to their peers. Only then can true learning be evidenced within a faculty. Secret Five – Transparency Rules
  6. 6. A leader will not have the backing of the faculty if it is perceived that he or she is not being completely honest. Throughout the change process, challenges occur and plans may need to be changed. When this occurs, leaders need to inform their staff of the inner workings or the “behind the scenes” occurrences. This builds credibility and trust between leaders and their staff, which can easily be broken if the leader is dishonest or omits key information that the faculty finds out through other means. Even when the truth is not positive or favorable, leaders should still share it with their teachers and staff to maintain transparency and credibility. Secret Six – Systems Learn When leaders establish a process, they must be careful to solidify successful processes by creating systems. When leaders convert processes into systems, it allows the organization to be more efficient, as well as enabling all stakeholders with the “how-to manual” for addressing common problems that will reoccur without an effective process in place. A good leader’s legacy can be the establishment of systems for management efficiency. Conclusion Fullan’s Six Secrets of Change can transform an organization and its effectiveness from the inside. Leaders can engage their employees in relevant, systems-based learning principles for the improvement (change) of their environment. Further, leaders can expand upon their effectiveness within an institution by loving their employees and practicing transparency with them. Such practices will ensure that change is carefully implemented and accepted.
  7. 7. A leader will not have the backing of the faculty if it is perceived that he or she is not being completely honest. Throughout the change process, challenges occur and plans may need to be changed. When this occurs, leaders need to inform their staff of the inner workings or the “behind the scenes” occurrences. This builds credibility and trust between leaders and their staff, which can easily be broken if the leader is dishonest or omits key information that the faculty finds out through other means. Even when the truth is not positive or favorable, leaders should still share it with their teachers and staff to maintain transparency and credibility. Secret Six – Systems Learn When leaders establish a process, they must be careful to solidify successful processes by creating systems. When leaders convert processes into systems, it allows the organization to be more efficient, as well as enabling all stakeholders with the “how-to manual” for addressing common problems that will reoccur without an effective process in place. A good leader’s legacy can be the establishment of systems for management efficiency. Conclusion Fullan’s Six Secrets of Change can transform an organization and its effectiveness from the inside. Leaders can engage their employees in relevant, systems-based learning principles for the improvement (change) of their environment. Further, leaders can expand upon their effectiveness within an institution by loving their employees and practicing transparency with them. Such practices will ensure that change is carefully implemented and accepted.

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