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Leading Change Transcript

Transcript of the video presented by the California Department of Education.

The following is a text transcript of the Leading Change video, as presented by the Student Achievement and Support Division of the California Department of Education.

Video Starts

Welcome to the Quality Schooling Framework—also called the QSF. The California Department of Education developed the QSF to assist educators as they work to ensure that the students in their schools learn and thrive. This video will focus on how school site and district administrators can be effective leaders for change.

School and district leaders “wear many hats.” They are instructional leaders and curriculum and assessment experts. They are also managers of finances, facilities, resources, and personnel. They are community builders, and at times must act as crisis managers.

The complex role of an educational leader becomes even more challenging when schools are navigating a period of many changes. In California, students, parents and teachers are adjusting to new standards and assessments. They are also working to meet the challenge of teaching and learning 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

At the same time, school districts are accepting increased local responsibilities for a new funding and accountability system. Leading schools and districts through this time of critical change is both exciting and challenging.

District and school leaders can have an enormous impact on change processes when they are highly visible and engaged. Educational leaders play a crucial role in fostering a climate in which the entire school community works collaboratively toward a shared vision, and in which challenges are turned into opportunities, which are addressed with certainty and confidence.

Times of rapid change may generate anxiety within the school community. The school’s stakeholders look to its administrators both to maintain the vision and to provide the leadership needed to navigate through any challenges and uncertainty. New initiatives are most likely to succeed if school leaders anticipate a certain level of apprehension and take action to address it. Leaders can reduce anxiety by managing the change process, making it:

  • Understandable—by building awareness of upcoming changes well before the transition begins
  • Inclusive—by involving stakeholders in developing a shared vision and plan of action
  • Optimistic—by maintaining a positive attitude and by framing challenges as opportunities
  • Human-centered—by viewing the change from the prospective of others, and…
  • Organized and sustainable—by aligning programs and resources to maintain a focus on the goals of the new initiatives, and by phasing in the transition so that changes can be refined and adjusted using knowledge gained during the initial stages of implementation. 

Change anxiety can be minimized by building a strong sense of community among school stakeholders before the change is introduced.

How do educational leaders nurture a sense of community and build consensus for new initiatives? They use both formal and informal opportunities to build relationships within the organization and with the larger school community. They communicate frequently with stakeholders, and provide multiple opportunities for feedback and discussion of important issues. It is also important to regularly draw attention to the practices and programs that have been working.

Effective leaders recognize the importance of a shared vision and common goals. They invite broad participation in the development and implementation of school plans, and structure opportunities for stakeholders to contribute throughout the planning process.

In managing change, school and district leaders must balance the desire for openness and collaboration with the need to make decisions in a timely way. The decision-making process should be clearly communicated when asking for community participation. Will decisions be made by consensus? Will the leadership team make a recommendation based on community input? Or, will one individual make a decision after balancing stakeholder feedback, legal requirements, and school and district priorities with available resources?

Any of these approaches can work well, as long as the process is clear and all community members understand at the outset how their input will be used as a part of the decision-making process. Even when decisions do not directly reflect the feedback received, it is important to clearly communicate that all viewpoints were heard, understood, and appreciated; as well as the rationale for the decision made.

Another of the many challenges educational leaders face is creating a balance between needed change and organizational stability. This balance often includes planning for shared leadership and for eventual leadership transitions. Effective administrators understand the importance of building leadership capacity within the school or school district. They provide appropriate training and gradually increasing responsibility to those in leadership positions. They establish pathways for aspiring leaders and for those in informal leadership positions, such as teacher leaders. A commitment to planning for succession ensures the sustainability of effective programs.

The importance of effective leadership is clear. Research has shown that school leadership is second only to classroom teaching as an influence on pupil learning.

Thank you for viewing this overview of effective practices for leading change. We encourage you explore the QSF element for Leaders, which provides a variety of resources to support leadership development. Also look for resources associated with this video, including a discussion guide that provides ideas for using this resource with current and future leaders, as you work together to ensure that all your students learn and thrive.

Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | QSF@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, December 8, 2020
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