The world is currently facing a myriad of challenges in the social, economic and political spheres. Globally, some of the significant problems that have been witnessed include global warming, depletion of natural resources, soaring food prices and dwindling world economy (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). Finding a lasting solution to these problems is necessary for the future prosperity of the world. A few experts in the social, economic and political domains have been left with the debilitating task of solving these intricate challenges. However, the role of schools in solving these problems has not been given much attention (John & Dan, 2000). Indeed, schools can provide lasting solutions to the current challenges by offering relevant skills needed in the contemporary world (Andy & Caroline, 2000). In simple terms, learning institutions should regularly review their curricula and syllabuses to make education relevant to the societal needs. For example, teachers and school administrators should encourage students to be innovative. This paper links innovation to constructive change in schools (Wagner & Kegan, 2006).
Innovation in the Context of a School Principal
Traditionally, most schools face challenges such irregular outbreak of aggression, breakdown of instructional facilities and poor academic performance. Scholarly research reveals that lack of innovative principals and teachers is one of the most severe problems in schools (John & Dan, 2000). The ability of a school to overcome the aforementioned challenges depends on the leadership capability of its principal.
It is not easy to predict how contemporary academic institutions will differ from the future ones, but is evident that schools require better leadership. The past education system did not demand much from school principals. Therefore, a school principal that had basic administration skills was fit to manage a school (Robert & Lisa, 2001). In the last few decades, principals were expected to fulfill education standards, address minor staff queries and order supplies. They were also expected to prepare school budgets, keep the learning environment safe and ensure that transport services were working smoothly.
Currently, school principals are expected do more work because of the following reasons. Many schools are currently enrolling more students, technology has become indispensable in schools and it is increasingly becoming hard to get skilled teachers. Furthermore, insecurity is becoming a serious challenge in schools due to the rising levels of terrorism. More importantly, academic excellence has become the main concern for professional answerability. Therefore, principals should work hard in a dynamic and challenging environment (Wagner & Kegan, 2006).
Research indicates that principals can significantly improve education by guiding learning programmes and activities. The task of guiding learning activities requires principals to have good academic skills and teaching techniques. Principals should forge good work relationships with instructors to improve learning activities. “Principals must collaborate with parents, local health agencies, youth development groups, local businesses and other community residents to promote the common goal of raising performance of students” (Richard & Frank, 1996).
Rewarding of Principals
The performance of many school principals has been affected by lack of recognition of their efforts. Lack of proper methods of motivating innovative principals has affected their creativity. Therefore, principals that develop innovative learning programmes should be properly rewarded. Principals can be rewarded with promotion and salary increment (Richard & Frank, 1996). Alternatively, a scholarship award aimed at improving skills can motivate a principal. Motivation of learners is also critical in the process of teaching new skills. Principals should reward students that develop innovative ideas to encourage them to be more inventive (Richard & Frank, 1996). Various modes of motivation can be applied in school provided they are acceptable. For example, a student who develops a computer idea can be rewarded with a laptop. Equally important is the motivation of teachers that perform well in class. Therefore, school principals should motivate both students and teachers to be creative (Richard & Frank, 1996).
How Schools are Receptive to Innovation and Change
In the past, students were mainly taught the basics of learning, which included reading, writing and mathematics. However, employers today need more skills. Therefore, schools all are undergoing radical transformation to provide skilled and innovative graduates (John & Dan, 2000). One of the significant changes in the learning environment is the introduction of technological inventions. At present, many schools have introduced computers and sophisticated instructional techniques to make students technologically efficient. Although digitization of the learning environment is important, it is not enough to make learners innovative (John & Dan, 2000). Therefore, school principals should encourage learners to be creative.
Designing Good Learning Programmes
School principals can make learners innovative by developing innovative learning strategies and demonstrating good leadership skills. The process of initiating change in any institution starts with developing a clear strategy that is acceptable to all stakeholders (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). In a school setting, a principal should develop innovative learning programmes that are acceptable to both students and teachers. The development of learning programmes should take into consideration the education demands of a society. Studies indicate that employers these days need workers who possess basic, communication, problem solving, management, cognitive and interpersonal skills (Andy & Caroline, 2000). Consequently, principals should design learning programmes that make students acquire innovative skills. School traditions and believes should be revised to make learning goals relevant to the present needs.
Improving Instruction in School
Teaching students innovative skills requires better methods of instruction; for example, it would be impractical to teach the importance of computer skills without using them in learning activities. Teachers and principals should both agree on the best methods of instruction (Andy & Caroline, 2000). Moreover, school principals should constantly supervise teachers to ensure they use the right methods of instruction (Andy & Caroline, 2000).
Implementation of new strategies in schools requires good leadership skills. According to John and Dan, “a principal should have instructional leadership that focuses on strengthening teaching and learning, professional development and accountability” (John & Dan, 2000). A creative school principal should practice visionary leadership that aims at ensuring that students develop high skills (Robert & Lisa, 2001). Above all, a principal should apply his leadership strategies in facilitating learning because effective learning is the primary goal of any school (Andy & Caroline, 2000).
Creation of Think Tanks in Schools
Schools can also encourage creativity and sharing of ideas by organizing workshops to discuss innovative ideas (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). Traditionally, many schools have debating sessions aimed at making students develop communication and interpersonal skills. School debates have indeed enabled students to develop leadership and analytical skills. The great demand for innovative skills in the society makes it imperative for schools to create think tanks (Richard & Frank, 1996). Group discussions can encourage students to think creatively; for instance, students can be asked to think of mechanisms that can be used to keep the school environment clean (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). Students can be asked to develop a strategy for making learning more interesting (Andy & Caroline, 2000). Think tanks should be encouraged in schools because they encourage students to be more creative. They also enable students to find solutions to problems within their surroundings (Robert & Lisa, 2001). Therefore, think tanks increase the probability of finding solutions to the current global challenges. Innovative students are more likely to become creative employees and entrepreneurs in future (Richard & Frank, 1996).
Challenges to Constructive Change
Initiating change is often difficult to many leaders because they are self -centered and are not willing to involve others in decision-making activities (Richard & Frank, 1996). Thus, a principal should engage both students and teachers in designing new learning programmes (Wagner & Kegan, 2006). Resistance to change in school can be avoided through gradual introduction of new skills and strategies. Moreover, a principal should make students understand the importance of introducing new learning skills and programmes (Robert & Lisa, 2001).
This discussion has shown that there is need for schools to improve learning activities to make students competitive and relevant to the current job demands. School principals can encourage students to develop innovative ideas through adoption of new methods of instruction. It is evident that change leadership can enable principals to improve learning activities in schools. Therefore, principals should be motivated to improve learning activities. Moreover, schools should be dynamic and responsive to the contemporary education needs in the society.
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John, K., & Dan, C. (2000). The Heart of Change. Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press.
Richard, M., & Frank, L. (1996). Teaching the New Basic Skills: Principles for Educating Children to Thrive in a Changing Economy. New York: Free Press.
Robert, K., & Lisa, L. (2001). How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: The Seven Languages for Transformation. San Francisco: Wiley.
Wagner, T., & Kegan, T. (2006). Change Leadership: A practical guide to transforming our schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.