Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why Does an Educational Change Leader Need to Develop a Learning Organization?

      As noted in the previous post, action research is a process in which educators systematically investigate instructional practices and techniques in order to improve their teaching.  As part of the process, the impact of a specific instructional practice on student learning is measured.  The results become the basis for educational planning, innovation, and effective decision-making.  Therefore, by utilizing action research, the educational leader increases development of the disciplines required to promote a learning organization. 
      Themes and theories identified in the literature in relation to the concept of a learning organization were developed from 1990-1999.  In addition to Senge’s (1990) systems model, Steiner's (1998) organizational learning model garnered a lot of attention.  The five primary disciplines of a learning organization were identified by Senge (1990) as: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning.  By utilizing these disciplines, facilitating the learning of teachers and students, and transforming itself as part of a continuous improvement process, a school will thereby begin to exhibit the essential features of a learning organization.

      An effective change leader’s new role and additional responsibilities would be to support staff transitions throughout the change process.  This is optimized by helping build resiliency during change.  It is also essential for the change leader to willingly destabilize the system to promote innovation, provide workplace balance, and thereby create a learning organization.  Since this requires a change in the educational leader’s primary purpose, the creation of organizational structure that encourages a culture of learning (Senge, Kleinder, Roberts, Ross, and Smith, 1994) requires the right people becoming part of the organization.  Therefore, the role of an educational change leader needs to be much more proactive, inclusive, trusting, trustworthy, and supportive.  Being proactive will mitigate reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control. 
      As a result, the proactive educational change leader is better able to focus time and energy on what can be controlled.  Covey (1989) identified the importance of allowing problems, challenges, and opportunities to fall into two areas--Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.  Proficiency in this area allows the educational change leader to attend to the appropriate details within his or her sphere (Senge et al., 1994).  Ironically, the result can then be a school that is a learning organization prepared to promote learning for all!

Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New

            York: Free Press
Senge, P.M. (1990). The fifth discipline. London ENG: Century Business

Senge, P. M., Kleiner, A., Roberts, C., Ross, R., & Smith, B. J. (1994). The fifth discipline

            fieldbook: Strategies and tools for building a learning organization. New York: