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Managing Change (Or how to get them to see it’s worth doing)

Change management isn’t easy, I know that, I studied it 10 years ago at University. I know that you have to listen even better than you talk when dealing with change. I know that you have to take onboard everyones concerns, and help people to see that the change is for their benefit.

I know all that. What I didn’t know was just how HARD getting it right is!!!!

My experiences of change management are offered up here as a warning to the curious, an aide to memoir for those (like me) who ‘knew it’ and as a way for me to reflect and re-examine how i manage change. The change in question, well there’s a lot but it falls into two real projects;

  1. Testing Google Apps for education with a group of around 20 experienced teachers
  2. Testing Tablet computers (iPads and Nexus7s) with a group of teachers

The first thing I must say is I’m not moaning, if anything I’m ‘thinking out loud’ about the best ways to improve how I manage change rather than complaining about how I’m doing it or how people are responding to it.

I work with possibly some of the most dedicated, professional, hard-working and committed teachers you could possibly imagine! Look up in a book ‘what a teacher should be’ and you’ll find I’m working with those people!!

My fears about my management of change;

  • My enthusiasm isn’t enough
  • My plans are not robust enough
  • Staff are too busy to see their involvement in the change as a priority

My enthusiasm isn’t enough I’m enthusiastic about ICT and its ability to change learning and teaching (yep that’s that way round deliberately). But enthusiasm isn’t always as useful as you’d think. In my previous school such enthusiasm was dismissed as ‘wide eyed idealism’ and the tearm ‘ICT evangelist’ was actually used as a negative label! (yeah, I’m not at that school anymore). But still you’ve got to consider ‘how much is too much’ and might be making people think ‘Have I got to be THAT into ICT to make this work form me??’.

My plans are not robust enough Managing change is like spinning plates, but being handed new plates just as you get all of them spinning together. Plans are important, but so is being able to adapt the plans as you move on. And having everyone involved agree that plans need to be adapted. To this end Google Apps are proving a saviour, plans can be updated and everyone who needs to know knows, without 20million emails.

Staff are too busy to see their involvement in the change as a priority Lets be really honest, we’re teachers, our days are not 9-3 (regardless of what some people say for brownie points) we work long hours and then some more at home! So convincing people that they will benefit from being involved in the change rather than just being affected by it is a difficult thing to get right. I want people involved, from as many departments as possible, with as many ‘tests’ for Google and tablet computers as possible, because I want to be proved right in my belief that we can truly inspire students AND teacher with technology!

Advice to myself?…

Plan, review, re-do!

Fairly certain my very wise father told me that years ago, and its simple, but completely right.

  • Get the plans right, have a starting point and an end goal in sight, with key objectives set out and key dates too!
  • Be reviewing, every day, treat every obstacle as a change to review; ‘Are we doing this right?’ ‘How should we respond to this?’, keep reviews written down, in a document, a book, whatever works!
  • Re-do; you planned, you reviewed, why not re-do on the go, be like ‘bamboo in the wind’ and bend with change! To see your ultimate goals realised be prepared to adapt your ‘plan’. You’d love it when it all comes together.

Alright, that’s it, my hopes, fears and answers to my own questions about change management. Hope it is of use to someone, or at least makes you realise that change, as we all know really is never easy, but it is often necessary!

Oh, and if all else fails…

Make, bake and take in Cup Cakes!!!

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