“Making change work requires the energy, ideas, commitment, and ownership of all those making improvements” (Fullan et al 2005). Personally I found it difficult to get ownership in the first stages of the change process as we were still dealing with resistance to the change and explaining the whys and hows of the change. In this, our second year, it is easier to get ownership as fears have been dispelled and the monster is no longer the change process but rather the old ways that are hindering progress.
Employing new people in this second year has really crytallised the vision for the “old hands” who now feel a responsibility to help train the newcomers and to show them what the culture of the Cluster looks like. The newcomers, who are all excellent teachers, are asking excellent questions which are keeping people on their toes and thinking more deeply as to why we do things the way that we do. Fullan et al note that “ownership is not something available at the beginning of a change process, but something created by a quality change process”.
The main problem we have encountered is people feeling that the change is too fast and that they are not getting a chance to be consulted yet, on the other hand, there are people who are critical that the change is not happening fast enough. Why can’t you accomplish it in several weeks (forgetting that it took 10 years to establish the current status quo)? Even though we are working in education, people forget that we are constantly learning and evolving and that the static state is for the lazy and those that should move on.
We have tried to establish “the condition for continuous improvement” in the Cluster by having project teams centred around Literacy, Numeracy and Social Skills/Behaviour. The purpose of the project teams is to upskill the team members through sharing of resources, expertise, and knowledge and then to take this expertise into schools through whole cohort/department/syndicate professional learning led by the team as collegial experts. We had some success with this approach in the first year of the transformation and expect to build on it in the second year.