Thirteen Tips for Managing Change
Dennis Sparks, Executive Director of the National Staff Development
Council, offers these 13 tips for managing the complex and difficult change
process (Sparks, 1993):
- Educate the leaders of change, including both principals and teachers.
- Use a "systems" approach to ensure that all aspects of the
school organization are considered when planning and implementing change.
- Use a team approach that involves many stakeholders in the change process.
- Share power with teachers and others to encourage the implementation
of the change efforts.
- Make plans, but "hold your plans loosely." Develop plans,
but know that they will have to be adapted to change as needs change.
- Realize that there is a tension between establishing readiness for
change and the need to get people implementing new approaches quickly.
While getting people intellectually ready for change is something to be
considered, it should not take so much time and effort that people lose
interest and motivation.
- Provide considerable amounts of training and staff development for
those involved. These activities can include everything from holding study
groups to "on-the-dash" coaching.
- Choose innovative practices for and with teachers that are research-based
and "classroom friendly." Picking approaches that have been used
or researched can help the implementation of those approaches.
- Recognize that change happens only through people. The emotional effects
of change on educators need to be considered and understood by all involved
in the change process. Understanding resistance and working with it is
- Be prepared for "implementation dip." Fullan (1993) and others
note that things often get worse temporarily before improvement begins
- Help educators and others develop an "intellectual understanding"
of the new practices. While the outcomes are important to assess, people
also need to understand the underlying meanings and functions of the practices.
- Seek out "paradigm shifters" and "idea champions"
who are interested in making substantial changes in practice.
- Take the long view; realize that change takes time and should not be
forced to occur too quickly.
Copyright © North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer and copyright information.