The change process describes how organizations or institutions respond to the dynamics of the environments in which they operate. The education system for instance has always been associated with a lot of challenges. The challenges are usually related to the ability of learning institutions to meet their objectives. Change is inevitable as organizations try to address their challenges (Barker & Coy, 2004). A change of strategy is the most common mitigation plan that is used by institutions in response to their challenges (Bush, 2008). As the strategies change, the organizational culture goes through tremendous changes in line with the new policies. The proposed changes in an institution will only achieve their purpose if they are done in an organized manner (Caldwell, 2006). This calls for an effective framework for implementing changes in an intuition. It is against this backdrop that Diera International School is seeking to adopt a change framework that would enable it to improve the quality of education and performance of the students. This paper discusses the application of the systematic change framework. The application of the framework will be discussed in the context of Diera International School.
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Diera international school is located in Dubai’s Festival City (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). The institution provides quality education at all grades. The English curricular forms the basis for providing quality education at the institution. The performance of the institution in terms of the students’ achievements in academics is evaluated regularly. The current evaluation results have identified the following weaknesses in the institution. First, there is weak academic leadership and this can be proved by the student’s modest performance in various subjects (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). Second, the teaching methods used in the institution are unsatisfactory. Finally, the progression of students in acquiring knowledge in the field of sciences is below average (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010).
To address the above weaknesses, the following recommendations have been made. First, the institution should focus on “improving the level of performance in all major subjects” (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). This means that the students should be in a position to perform better. Second, teachers should improve their skills through training programs that focus on the use of effective teaching skills. The competence of the teachers should also be evaluated on regular basis using acceptable benchmarks and criteria. Third, an effective assessment methodology that enables the teachers to evaluate the performance of individual students should be adopted (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). This will help in identifying the weaknesses of students at the individual level. Consequently, the teachers will be able to recommend the best remedy to address the students’ weaknesses. Finally, the curricular should be revised to make it responsive to the learning needs of the students (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). The implementation of these recommendations will lead to drastic changes in the operations and culture of the institution. It is important to implement the planned changes in a controlled and informed manner to avoid failure (Clement & Vandenberghe, 2000). Thus the systematic change framework will be adopted as a guide for implementing the desired changes in the institution’s culture.
The Systematic Change Framework
This framework enables educators to introduce systematic changes in learning institutions to improve performance. The framework is based on the concept of SWOT analysis as the main tool for evaluating the performance of the institution (Smith, 2006). According to this framework, every stage in the leadership and learning process in a school is assessed against predetermined benchmarks. The situation or performance of every stage is ranked using a four-point scale as shown in figure 1.
According to this framework, the leadership and learning process in an institution is expected to rise from the beginning stage to the leading stage (Smith, 2006). This is achieved by addressing the weaknesses identified through the SWOT analysis. The framework is informed by two theories namely, the round table theory and the institutional change theory. The institutional theory focuses on the relationship between the learning institution and the cultural settings in such institutions (Smith, 2006). This means that the culture of a learning institution “shapes its structure as well as the behavior of students” (Smith, 2006). The round table theory on the other hand focuses on the role of “shared-leadership in introducing changes” (Smith, 2006). According to this theory, the process of making decisions in learning institutions should involve all stakeholders. The systematic change framework combines the contributions of shared-leadership and the culture of the institution in introducing changes.
This framework is associated with three main advantages. First, it enables the leadership of the institution to identify the areas of concern that require argent responses (Smith, 2006). For example, at Diera School the framework will help in identifying the technical competence of teachers. Second, it helps the management to track the progress of the change process over some time. Finally, the framework is likely to ensure success since it encourages evolutionary rather than revolutionary change in an institution. Students and staff members are likely to adapt easily to evolutionary changes as compared to revolutionary changes.
Application of the Systematic Change Framework
Achievement and Goal Setting
Goal setting and achievement is an important aspect of implementing change strategies. This is because goals act as the benchmarks for assessing the effectiveness of the introduced changes in addressing the identified problems (Hergreus, 2007). In Diera International School the recommendations mentioned above acts as the goals as well as the benchmarks for assessing the success of the proposed changes. Thus achievements will reveal the degree to which the recommendations were implemented. Competition is the main behavior associated with goal setting and achievement. Students who desire to benefit from the change process must be willing to compete with their colleagues and achieve the expected learning outcomes.
Goal setting and achievement in education involves examining the learning standards, assessment criteria, and the teaching methodologies (Smith, 2006). The learning standards at Diera International School are at the beginning stage due to the following reasons. First, the process of goal setting does not include all stokeholds in the school. The goals are identified in isolation by the teachers and this makes it difficult to adopt a common perspective on the desired goals. Second, there is no collaboration between the school and the community in planning for the learning outcomes (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). At the development stage, the teachers will use simple methods such as dialogue to identify common goals. To elevate the learning standards to the ‘standard’ level of the framework, the following can be considered. There should be some form of collaboration among teachers in achieving the goals of the school (Smith, 2006). There should also be timelines for evaluating success in achieving the goals of the institution. At the leading stage, there will be a collaboration between the parents, teachers, and students in setting goals. Professional development will be encouraged through regular training.
Assessment at Diera School is currently done at the end of the academic period (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). Even though the results of the assessments are documented, the data that informs the analysis is not collected systematically. Thus the assessment stage is still at the beginning stage. At the development stage, student assessment will be considered a very important exercise. Thus the data relating to the performance of the students will be provided and will also inform the process of setting learning objectives. At the standard stage, the teachers will use the information on students’ performance to get insights on the abilities and weaknesses of individual students. A variety of methods will also be used to assess the students (Silins & Mulford, 2002). Assessment at the leading stage will involve the use of methods that are fair to all students. The students will also be involved in the assessment process by considering their views on the assessment criteria.
The teaching methodology used at Diera School allows teachers to unilaterally determine the learning objectives (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). The choice of the teaching methodology is the discretion of the teachers. The teaching methodologies are focused on short-term objectives. This means that the teaching methodologies are at the begging level. Thus to elevate the teaching methodologies to the development stage, teachers should discuss the students’ learning requirements (Smith, 2006). This will help in identifying the differences in the needs of the students. The teaching methodology at this stage is based on set standards and acknowledges diversity (Smith, 2006). At the leading stage, the teachers should be able to improve their skills regularly in response to the changing learning needs of the students.
Personal growth relates to the improvement in teachers’ competence and students’ learning abilities (Hergreus, 2007). Personal growth is associated with two behavior patterns namely dependence and conventionality. Dependency encourages training among teachers to improve their skills. In the context of students, it means relying on teachers for guidance in academics. Students will highly benefit from the change process if they can exercise some level of responsibility for their performance rather than purely depending on their teachers (Bush, 2008). Conventionality defines the degree to which teachers conform to the set standards of practice. Better performance will be achieved if teachers can meet the set standards.
Diera International School does not have a professional development program (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). The teachers depend on external institutions for their professional development. They determine the objectives of their professional development. Thus such professional development might not be beneficial, especially when they do not match the needs of the school. At the development stage, the school will explore possibilities of implementing internal professional development (Smith, 2006). There will be a shift from unplanned professional development to planned professional development in a bid to address the learning needs of the students. There will be the provision of economic resources to support professional development in the institution. This happens at the standard stage of professional development (Smith, 2006). Professional development at this stage aims at improving learning among students. The leading stage will encourage professional development through programs that facilitate the acquisition of specific skills that are needed by teachers to perform their duties effectively.
Cooperation describes the process through which students, parents, and teachers work together to achieve the goals of the school. Cooperation is often challenged by power struggle and opposition (Evirin, 2004). The power struggle is witnessed when one party intends to take full control of the change process and exclude others. Opposition occurs when some stakeholders are against the planned changes. For example, the teachers at Diera School will oppose the recommendation that encourages them to improve their skills if they do not believe that their skills are below the expectations of the management. The relationship between parents, teachers, and staff is not well developed at Diera School (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). Students tend to interact only with their peers. Addressing this problem will involve moving the cooperation process to the development stage. This will involve including “the needs of students in planning” (Smith, 2006). The school should attempt to improve the relationship between parents, teachers, and the general community. The standard stage involves empowering students by involving them in decision making and mentoring. At the leading stage, there will be a strong relationship between parents, students, and teachers. Every student plays an important role in decision making.
Integrity describes the honesty of the leadership of an institution (Hergreus, 2007). Integrity is associated with approval and compliance. Compliance measures the degree to which the leadership of the organization can adhere to the rules and regulations that guide the operation of the institution. Compliance usually leads to approval by the various stakeholders in an institution (McGilp, 1999). Approval refers to the endorsement of the mandate of the institutions’ leadership. The mandate of the leadership at Diera School will be approved if it can inspire the staff and students to realize the outcomes of the proposed changes.
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The leadership at Diera School has established a framework for making decisions on the strategies of realizing the vision of the school (Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, 2010). The leadership has also been able to identify and foster the values and norms that guide the interactions and operations within the school. According to the systematic change framework, identification of the values forms the begging stage in promoting integrity. The development stage involves focusing on improving performance and including everyone in decision making. The standard stage is characterized by transparency and the use of an effective structure for making decisions. The vision of the school will be implanted at the leading stage as more emphasis is placed on improvement in performance.
The change process enables organizations to implement new strategies to improve their performance. The change process should be supported by an effective change framework to avoid failure. The systematic change framework can be used to implement evolutionary changes in an educational setting (Smith, 2006). The framework combines the role of organizational culture and shared-leadership in achieving the outcomes of the proposed change process. The framework provides a basis for evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of an organization to identify the areas that need to be changed. It also provides a benchmark for measuring the progress of the change process. Thus it is a holistic approach for implementing change, especially in learning institutions.
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