Covid-19 has changed the social landscape of countries affected, including in the area of educational management.
Ensuring painless transition to the new normal requires strong leadership from the government right down to the community.
Leading educational change both at the macro and micro levels are challenging.
It is even more complicated as the success of change at the former level may not necessarily guarantee desired outcomes at the latter stage.
Hitherto, the government has dealt with the pandemic head-on.
To prepare for the new normal, guidelines and circulars by relevant agencies have been disseminated to assist education institutions on how to manage teaching and learning during this challenging time.
In short, macro-level changes are continuously being made as the need arises.
However, at the micro-level, educational change cannot be simply “managed”.
It must be reframed in terms of what it means for those involved at various stages.
What does it mean to the institutions involved? Be it higher learning institutions, schools, kindergartens or nurseries. What does the change mean to all in the sector?
It is critical that educational leaders develop a shared understanding of what change means to them especially ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the changes.
In so doing, micro-level educational leaders will be able to gauge issues that need to be confronted in the local context.
To ensure a high success rate in the new normal, educational leaders must understand the multidimensional aspect of change that is will this change involve the use of new or revised materials; will it be possible to use new teaching approaches?; and will it require alteration of beliefs about teaching and learning?
Evidently, lecturers and teachers are very much aware that there is a range of new teaching approaches that can be used in the new normal.
In fact, it is very reassuring to see the support given by educational leaders and various agencies to encourage lecturers and teachers to get the necessary training to enable them to acquire relevant skills to use new approaches in teaching.
While practitioners are divided in their opinions on the extent of the use of technology in teaching and learning, it is the role of educational leaders to constantly engage with them to identify what is appropriate and what is not.
Because change is almost always accompanied by dilemmas, it is important that micro-level educational leaders address the 3Rs issues of relevance, readiness and resources.
By sharing the benefits of change in the new normal, micro-level educational leaders will be able to ease the transition of practices of the old to new normal.
Next, micro-level educational leaders must ensure institutions and people involved are ready for the transition.
This requires capacity building. Individuals must be able to confidently see that they can meet the perceived need and use their knowledge and skills.
Encouraging individuals involved to enhance their knowledge and skills in preparation for the new normal is crucial. Readiness is closely related to the third R which is resources.
To ensure that everybody involved is ready, micro-level educational leaders must identify available resources to assist the transition.
There are a variety of free and paid technology-based resources that can be used. Some are outsourced while others are developed in-house.
But in promoting equality and equal opportunities during the new normal, micro-level educational leaders must not discount the use of more conventional approaches for those who may have limited or no access to the technology.
In other words, it is important that we exhaust all available resources to ensure that no one is left behind.
While it may seem that we are heading towards a problematic implementation of change, it can be achieved at an acceptable level if there is a coherent way in which it is filtered down through the system.
This can avoid those involved from feeling overloaded and confused.
Macro-level educational leaders provide enabling structures to allow for educational change in the new normal.
But it is essential that micro-level educational leaders are prepared to analyse and evaluate their local context to ensure real change takes place.
It may not be smooth sailing, but together they are able to guide us through. – NSTP
- The writer is Dean of Faculty of Management and Economics, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). Email: [email protected]