Bringing Coherence to Your District: Can Your Staff Talk the Walk?

08/23/2016
  • Blog
By Bobby Moore

Everyone has heard the phrase, “Walk the talk”—the idea that we must model what is communicated in our actions and behaviors. Organizational and personal behaviors do matter. However, as district and school leaders strive to move from compliance to commitment, and from evaluation to empowerment, a new paradigm with a diverse set of principles, skills, and protocols are required to move to extraordinary results. Teams must also be able to, “Talk the walk.” 

Learning to Talk the Walk
This new lens for examining the depth of understanding and ownership ensures much deeper reflection, execution, and implementation, which in return, will deliver even better performance and results. When staff members thoroughly understand the why, how, and what behind change in schools, true magic can happen as they become more empowered and engaged. 

As a former principal and superintendent, I have learned that change is a constant in education. We all know this! As your district or school embarks on something new, it’s critical to think through the change process and carefully consider your communications strategy. We cannot assume that just because the data are clear, and the move will be best for students, that all of the adults will gravitate to the idea with enthusiasm and acceptance. What do you want your audiences to know, feel, and do? You will need to cater your communications message, channels, and frequency to what your audience needs to hear and when or how they need to hear it. The most important starting point is knowing your audience’s change perspective and having a thoughtful and coherent communications strategy. 

My years as a principal and superintendent were successful. But if I knew then, what I know now after working alongside the Marketing and Communications team at Battelle for Kids that lives and breathes education every day, I would have been much more effective. 

Leading and communicating change is never a linear process. But there are a few distinct planning phases to consider to effectively involve key stakeholders along the way. Battelle for Kids uses its 4E Framework as a guide to help districts and schools develop an integrated communications and change leadership strategy that will fit their culture and local context to achieve desired goals. 

4EFramework

EDUCATE stakeholders with messages that communicate what you want them to know, feel, and do during the change process. When we communicate with stakeholders—educators, parents, students, businesses, community leaders, and others—early and often about how efforts will lead to greater equity and opportunity for all kids, they are much more likely to embrace change and engage around the important roles they play to move education forward. 

ENLIST stakeholders to be part of the process and provide feedback. Enlisting stakeholders should happen early on…no one wants to be told to do something. They want to be involved in creating it and communicating about it with others. You can even get early converts involved as change agents for a good cause.

EXAMINE feedback and best practices to ensure effective implementation. Many people think that leading and communicating change are “soft skills.” Not the case! These strategies are hard as nails when you measure whether or not your change is successful, which you should be doing multiple times along the way. 

Finally, ENGAGE those involved as champions of the work to achieve results that have lasting impact.

In today’s ever-changing education landscape, district and school leaders must ensure that staff can not only walk the talk, but also talk the walk to move education forward for students.  

Visit our Learning Hub to gain more effective strategies for leading, communicating, and implementing change in schools.