People, Process and Outcomes

Effective change will only come about when we have the right leadership and put in place a process to achieve our outcomes. Schools can change and this is only possible when we have a 'change sponsor' or 'change agent', the next step of course is the target of change and how we advocate this. There will be the continuous need for playing different roles by the same people in changing circumstance.

How do we bring about the change?
1. Leaders must become aware of the concepts of limited assimilation capacities of individuals.
2. Before we set out a new project, involving major change, a thorough analysis of all existing projects should be undertaken.
3. Projects should be prioritised.
4. All but the highest-priority projects should be considered for termination or reduction in scope.
5. A plan should be developed and implemented to eliminate and reduce scope of lower-priority projects.

For teachers to deliver the change in the school process, we have to make our priority list and ensure we are realistic in the projected outcomes. A process is only as good as the people who deliver. Effective sponsorship of change in schools needs significant commitment.

"Leaders throughout the pre-K12 education comity recognise effective personal learning as a key strategy for supporting significant school and school system improvements to increase results for all students. Whether they lead from classrooms, schools, school systems, technical assistance agencies, professional associations, universities, or public agencies, leaders develop their own and others capacity to learn and lead professional learning, advocate for it, provide support systems, and distribute leadership and responsibility for its effectiveness and results'. ~ Learning Forward

To overcome resistance to change, we  must win over the teachers, and this only possible when as trainers and managers we are able to explain to them that the school is simply an ecosystem for their personal and professional development. When we look at the most successful schools in India, we find they succeed only because they have a 'teachers first' policy. This is akin to the retail mantra of employees first. Most people often have a short term view and are reserved at the outcome of any process. When it is made very clear that the outcome of the change will indeed be their personal and professional development, we will be able to successfully overcome the resistance to change. 

The good school must have a 'people first' philosophy, and any organisation is as good as the people they have. No amount of money spent on infrastructure will be able to build a good process, unless we work to train and develop a good staff team. Every school must have a Teachers Centre and when the school becomes the best training institution will they achieve the outcomes of delivering quality eduction. The schools sector has to look at the hospitality and the medical sectors for innovating ways and means to serve the community better. In the hospitality industry on-the-job training is the key to better delivery, the Hyatt way or the way Taj delivers the experience and learning are good examples how they treat people first. These organisations work very hard to raise the bar for their people to deliver and offer customer delight. We need to make sure that all teachers – new recruits as well as those already in classrooms – are well-trained, have access to ongoing training and are treated as professionals – with decent pay and conditions.
  • Without teachers, a school is just a building.
  • Without trained teachers, schooling is not education.
  • Without trained teachers for all, education for all will never be a reality.
For the best outcomes, we have to look at schools as training grounds for teachers and ensure they are looked after very well. There are many examples of successful schools, where almost 75% of the school operating cost is the amount paid as teacher salary and their cost of training and development. To have the best people, beyond just training we must value them as an invaluable resource too.  I sometimes get carried away and say 'a good school is like a teacher factory', this is indeed true and at the risk of humans being called robots and being misunderstood, the emphasis is on the fact that most leading schools work to empower their people, and a school like say The Doon School takes pride in the fact that after a few successful years in the institutions their teachers go out as vice principals and leaders to other institutions. The school process has to be good and must deliver to the aspirations of the people the school employs, we must note it is happy people that make a better institution. For the process to deliver the outcomes, it is people alone who can do it.

People, Process and Technology work to create the ecosystem of quality delivery, and we must have a people first policy in all schools and educational institutions. For a country to develop, it is the quality of schooling that must improve, and this is only possible by having the best of people and good processes to deliver our outcome to quality in education. 

 John F. Mathias states "The respective roles of people and processes form one of the more intriguing relationships in quality work: Quality improvement efforts frequently reveal viewpoints emphasizing either people or processes, which can be challenging to manage simultaneously". 

It is worth asking should I manage the people or manage the process. Make sure you think about both, and see which are the genuine issues and which are the misleading issues, before you make a decision. We live in the place where people, process, and technology come together to create innovative solutions for schools. Everything we do would be impossible without the brilliant minds working tirelessly behind the scenes.  People, process, and technology are at the heart of any good institution.

The Human Face of Change
In dealing with the natural human reactions inherent in school change, says Robert Evans, a Massachusetts psychologist who has helped train many of the Coalition's National Faculty, leaders would benefit from orienting their efforts not around techniques but around a few key predispositions or biases:

1. Clarity and focus. Concentrate on one or two big and achievable changes at a time, then pay attention to them at all levels. If there are six big tasks, prioritize and sequence them to give them a chance of succeeding. "Watch where you spend your time when you have an extra twenty minutes here or there," Evans says. "That is sending a powerful message to your staff."

2. Recognition. The best low-cost improvement is to recognize the effort adults make, as well as their successes. "If you consistently deny people confirmation that their efforts are adequate, you demotivate them," says Evans. "We reward kids for hard work and effort; why can't a faculty do that for each other?"

3. Participation without paralysis. The challenge of adopting radical changes in classroom practice grows even harder when it goes along with adopting a whole new process of sharing decisions. "Most schools lose themselves in endless procedures to the point where they don't get around to results that have to do with kids," remarks Evans. "You won't have a consensual system, remember, until you share a belief system. Getting there is very time-consuming and intense-and you can't use consensus to do it!" As long as they make sure that ideas are continually flowing in both directions, Evans says, leaders should not be kept from acting on the change agenda for which they are being held accountable.

4. Confronting entrenched resisters. Once a school change priority is clear, the overt or covert resistance of those opposed to it can lower morale among supporters in very harmful ways. "First in private and then in a faculty meeting,the leader must challenge this, mounting a stout defense of the school's values," says Evans. "Ask other supportive voices to do their part, too. You are not a sheriff dealing with outlaws by yourself."

We know that effective teacher training is essential, by providing the school staff with leadership positions and opportunities to grow their careers in education, is the best way to have our process deliver better. As a business model the schools work to create cash surplus for development and expansion, this often makes them cut the budget for human resources and staff training. Low wages will give you low returns, and this is where the outcome will never be achieved. Need to not only hire good people, but offer them the best environment for their personal and professional development. Yes, the school business must be sustainable and work to the outcome of the personal and social development of a student, this will only be possible when we adopt a 'people first' policy and ensure that the people who run the process are not only well looked after but enjoy the work they do. Often said right people at the right place alone will delivery heart warming service and process delivery.

The author of the article Sandeep Dutt takes the onus of the content and the opinions expressed are his alone. You may please email the author on sd@ebd.in for comments if any.
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For more about the author www.sandeepdutt.com
References:
1. Schools Can Change: A Step-by-Step Change Creation System for Building Innovative Schools and Increasing Student Learning 
by Dale W. Lick , Karl H. Clauset , Carlene U. Murphy 
2. Good Schools of India 
www.goodschoolsofindia.com
3. Learning Forward - Professional Learning for Student Results
learningforward.org
4. Image courtesy - familytreecounseling.com
5. Every Child Needs a Teacher: Closing the Trained Teacher Gap www.campaignforeducation.org
6. Quality in the first person - What Comes First—People or Process? ~ J F Mathias
7. Coalition of School Essentials - www.essentialschools.org
8. Elementary school teacher ~ wwwcarmenwiki.osu.edu
9. Image courtesy www.diamondstarcoconsulding.com

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