Participate: Becoming a Changemaker

To take part in or become involved in an activity.

Participate in Bringing About Positive Change

Children’s education is vital to peace, stability, security, and economic advancement of communities and nations. Therefore, as educators, we must ensure that children have access to education and that the education they receive is of high quality and is delivered equitably. Effective change and transformation in education depends upon educators being motivated to participate in bringing about positive change. Educators can participate in advancing education as leaders and change agents. No matter where you work within education—as a teacher, administrator, counselor, education professor or within an education NGO—you can help to bring about positive change.

How to become a change agent: Tips for participating as an effective education change agent

Change and education are inextricably connected. In today’s environment, schools and education organizations continually face the need to adapt to the changes emanating from numerous sources: advances in technology, new policies, new demands for increased self-organized and virtual learning environments, and increasing demands and expectations around the world about the value and purpose of education. Change is inevitable and there is tremendous opportunity for educators to participate in the change and serve in the role of change agent, moving their organizations with strategic insight and ground level experience. So, how does one become an effective change agent? Here are four tips that can help you on your journey (click on each section to read more).

Tips for participating as an effective education change agent

Begin with the end in mind.

Too often, organizations decide to make change without a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and why. Change for change sake generally leads to failure and frustration. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, tells individuals to start with the end in mind. Effective change agents ask critical questions at the outset that create a strategic and tactical framework to produce desired results.

  • What is the current state and why is change in order?
  • What does the concept of change mean to you, the change agent, and to your organization?
  • Is there agreement on both sides about the current state and the desired future state?
  • How will change impact the organization, its culture, its employees and strategic partners, its products and services, and, ultimately, its overall revenue?
  • Who needs to be involved in making and sustaining the change?
  • Are the necessary resources available and committed?
  • What metrics will the organization use to evaluate the success of change?
  • Consider these questions, answer them honestly, and then map out the reasons that change is needed in a change plan. This will lay a solid foundation for any change initiatives undertaken by the school or education organization.

    Use data to drive decisions and gather consensus.

    Data drive many education organizations, including outcomes data, cost data, performance data, etc. We are often overwhelmed by data—the challenge then becomes how to identify, measure, and monitor the vital few metrics that will inform the change effort, and have the ability to analyze and extract key pieces of information that add value and meaning to the organizational change.

    Relevant and reliable data speak to community leaders and officials, politicians, funders, and other professionals involved with education. It is the common language that engages and motivates key stakeholders. Data provide the benchmark against which the success of any change initiative can be measured. It also keeps change agents and key stakeholders focused on the tasks at hand. Identifying meaningful metrics and extracting accurate data to support the progress achieved will keep everyone at the table actively engaged, and enthusiastically participating. It will also help to attract them to a common set of goals in the education improvement effort.

    Communicate, communicate, communicate.

    Launching a change initiative within your organization has many ramifications. There is seldom change without resistance. Fear of something new is also a frequent occurrence as the perceived security of the status quo begins to change. Whether the change is small (changing the location of a resource area) or big (integrating a new curriculum), keeping all stakeholders informed is critical.

    When change is on the horizon, most people want to know the following: what is the change, why is it being implemented, who is going to do what, how is it going to impact me, and when is it going to impact me?

    To ensure that people understand the reason for change, the communication must be honest, timely, clear, and stakeholder-friendly. A predetermined set of core messages that grounds all communication related to change should be developed and adhered to. This will provide a thread of consistency and credibility. Communication also must be delivered at a time and in a format (be sure to leverage multiple communication channels and modalities) that will encourage stakeholders to receive and process the information. Effective change agents recognize the importance of communication and often seek the expertise of internal or external communications professionals.

    When it comes to change, the golden rule is “You can’t communicate too early or too often.” Effective, active listening is also fundamental to successful change management. Confirming that the group to whom you are communicating has received and understood the message, as well as affirming that you are listening, is vitally important to success.

    Celebrate your progress.

    The pressures on schools and organizations to change have never been greater. This is partly because the value of education as a stabilizing and powerful force in communities has finally been realized. However, change comes in all forms and is called many things: continuous improvement, adapting new technology, adopting evidence-based practices, embracing new pedagogical methods. All of these events involve change.

    While leading change and actively participating can be stressful, a well-designed roadmap for change can be the blueprint for success. The roadmap not only keeps participants on-task, but also identifies milestones that signal a time to celebrate. Achieving the desired change doesn’t happen overnight. Generally, the process takes weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

    Effective change agents recognize the importance of those milestone moments and passionately pursue every opportunity to celebrate success and honor those who helped achieve it. Celebrating is infectious and small steps that lead to small successes gradually builds momentum and strengthens buy-in for and understanding of the “new way of doing things.”

    How can I participate today?

    1. Participate with CE International – Become a Global Friend. CE International is all about changing education for the better. Join us and receive education updates, our monthly enews Elevate Education, advocacy alerts, and more.
    2. Participate in school wide change – Sign up your school to be recognized through the Global Schools First (GSF) program. GSF is a school-wide assessment that helps your school to understand how well it is navigating change to prepare children for the world of tomorrow.