Districts working to implement new initiatives often face obstacles related to change management – the people side of change. It can be difficult to get buy-in from school- and district-level leaders, teachers, and other staff on new programs and ways of working. New initiatives may require a paradigm shift, and districts often get pushback from those who have a strong attachment to “the old way,” or are otherwise resistant to change. Beyond buy-in, new initiatives require staff to learn and enact new practices, which can be burdensome for busy educators, especially if they lack time or incentives. Districts also struggle with “initiative fatigue”, where it can be increasingly difficult to get buy-in on what teachers and staff see as yet another new initiative that may not last.
Respondents reported they experience this challenge often
Respondents reported this challenge is urgent
Ideas from the Field
- Repeated, ongoing conversations with teachers are important to many districts. This includes using books to spark discussion, and in many cases using instructional coaches to push for new mindsets.
- Another approach puts principals in the role of instructional leader in addition to administrator, responsible for professional development in their own school building. Having the patience to see this approach through initial pushback and resulting personnel changes has been crucial for many districts to see actual systems change.
Related Innovation Portfolios
Making time and space for teachers to incubate and test new ideasConsciously building a district-wide culture and capacity for innovation- Richland School District Two
Rethinking professional development to rethink educationA layered approach to personalize learning for educators with badges and an educator-led summer academy- Gurnee School District 56
In the Words of District Staff
“I think anytime that we talk about change, either at the district level or at the school level, there’s this kind of pervasive attitude that it will be here today and gone tomorrow. "Oh yes, we tried that back 20 years ago, and here it is cycling through again." If everything just kind of comes and goes, then there's no reason to invest in any one particular initiative that comes down the pike...It’s just really getting the buy-in, and helping people to see the importance and the value in making changes in accordance with new research or new practices.”
Successfully Implementing Transformational Change in Education - From Battelle for Kids, lessons learned about the importance of effective change leadership and strategic communications.
Mastering Organizational Change Management to Drive Digital Transformation in Education - From the Center for Digital Education, what the next-generation learning environment should include and how to apply principles of organizational change management to realize these environments.
Research: How the Best School Leaders Create Enduring Change - From the Harvard Business Review, research findings to help school leaders successfully navigate turnarounds.
Change Management: Key Theories to Consider when Extending Reach - From Opportunity Culture, this brief summarizes the key elements of eight major strands of change management from job redesign to turnarounds.