Please see the previous post for context and notes
The next three stages of Kotter’s model fall in the broad category of “engaging and enabling the whole organization” and are
4. Communicate the vision for buy-in
5. Empower a broad based action
6. Generate short term wins
The first of these, communicate the vision for buy-in, is sometimes also listed as get everyone on board. My take is that anecdotally, at least, pretty much everyone did get on board. Everyone knew the need and the urgency and did what they needed to get on board. Kotter’s model rather assumes a top-down mentality, but here I feel like this was neither top down or bottom up but simultaneous and from all sides of the organisations. Some countries entered lockdown slower than others so there was a little more time to plan, but in the end there doesn’t seem to have been a huge difference in the way that the crisis was responded to by language schools (with the proviso given by the note on context in the previous post)
From this point onwards, I feel we are getting to the parts of the model that can tell us something about what we need to be doing right now.
Number 5 of Kotter’s 8 steps is empower a broad based action (or more often enable action by removing barriers) This is where Kotter talks (to some extent) about training. This training and support is ongoing and must be. But there is possibly a tendency of managers to have started relaxing, or at least feeling like We’ve survived the first couple of weeks, and it’s all going OK. A lot of LTOs that I am aware of managed to put together some form of emergency training programme helping teachers to get to grips with Zoom or Google Meet or whatever else was being used. Online, a plethora of youtube videos and webinars held teachers’ hands through the basics of running online classes. The wider community offered up support and rudimentary training. What needed to be done, was done (for the most part). But, my sense is that a lot of what was done was logistical and technical, rather than pedagogic. Some of the immediate questions that were answered were: How can we make this work? How can we help our students? How can we, to the best of our abilities, make live online classes mirror face to face classes? How do we make testing happen online? etc
The next stage is to look at the pedagogy. Obviously some schools are already doing this and getting expert assistance. Teachers have by now worked out how to use the technology and have come up with their own creative ways to make classes function from a logistical standpoint. Now, the question is how we can make the online classes more successful teaching and learning interactions. This is one area where training and support is needed. For this get in touch with experts – there are many out there. People who have been researching and practicing online teaching and learning for years, not just a few days. Also find the members of your own staff who are seemingly doing well and see if they can and would be willing to offer something to their colleagues
The other really important area that needs to be constantly focused on is in the area of wellbeing. Teachers need support. Not only in their teaching but in their dealing with the realities of self isolation and working in an entirely different way. Make sure you’re checking in with them. Think about how you can support them in other ways – I’ve heard of schools opening up a virtual staffroom, where teachers can congregate through the day to chat between classes. It’s not the same as an actual staffroom, but it is something. Be in touch – practice “management by walking around” but in this case it’s perhaps “management by surfing around”
This also leads into Kotter’s 6th step, celebrate short term wins. Have an online party to congratulate the teachers and other staff for having done so well in such trying circumstances. Find some way to celebrate and recognize people for their efforts and for their achievements. People have done incredible things and they need recognition. I hope also your teachers are doing the same with their students. It’s not easy for anyone, and people are going through a lot. And set up some milestones for the next celebration – whatever those may be. Successfully putting mid-term exams online and running them. Getting positive feedback from your students. Learning a useful new online tool.
And…you too. Bake yourself a cake. Have a (virtual) party with old friends who you haven’t seen for 10 years. Reward yourself. Don’t minimise everything you have done to get to this point.