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Embracing Change: Creating a New Normal

September 11, 2020 - 5 minute read

Girl on computer

Due to COVID-19, we have been thrust into a world of online learning, remote working, and socially distanced living. As I write this, I sit in my family room at my makeshift desk, finishing a full day of virtual meetings, emails, and online chats.  My husband is on the couch, preparing his online acting and directing courses. My children are in their bedrooms, completing online college courses.  This shift to remote working and learning has brought some unforeseen benefits. We have gained more time in our days with no commute to work or school.  We can integrate our work responsibilities with home responsibilities throughout the day.  We have increased flexibility with our personal schedules.  Yet, we also miss the face-to-face connections with students, colleagues, and friends, and the opportunity to teach in a physical classroom setting, engaging in face to face collaboration. Our in-person world has become a virtual world.  I wonder how this new normal will forever shift our social norms.  Will we really go back to the way things were before COVID-19?  


For many of us, the transition to online teaching and remote working happened in a matter of days.  It was traumatic, jarring, and chaotic. As human beings, we often find change difficult.  Change interrupts well-established patterns of behavior and calls for new patterns to be developed (Ford, Ford & D’Amelio, 2008).  Resistance to change is a well-documented phenomenon. Sometimes we fear the unsettling chaos that can come with change.  Sometimes we fear not being the expert and starting over as a novice.  Sometimes, we simply prefer what is familiar (Ford, Ford & D’Amelio, 2008).  While organizational change can be disruptive and chaotic, it can also be a valuable, creative process.  The truth is, if your organization is to survive, change is inevitable.  Negative entropy is an organizational theory that describes how systems are naturally prone to disorder and demise, yet, through evolution and adaptation, organizations can work to slow this process and ensure their viability (Mumby & Kuhn, 2019).   Established systems are valuable since they organize our work, streamline processes, and ensure quality.  However, when we allow our status quo systems to create silos and insulate us from the needs of outside constituents (our students), it stagnates innovation and seals our fate of becoming irrelevant.  Change is difficult but needed.  It upsets the flow of operations but opens the opportunity for improvement.  It can bring chaos, but it can also bring progress. For me, the planner, organizer, detailed person, I run from change.  Nevertheless, when I love the system more than I value meeting the changing needs of those I serve, I have lost touch with what my work is really about – serving others. 

When to Change

It takes wisdom to know when to bring change to an organization. It requires looking externally at the needs of your students and families.  How have their lives changed since March 2020 when COVID-19 disrupted our lives? Do families prefer online learning because of self-paced learning and flexible schedules?  What do students need now after months of social isolation?  Will families expect more choices in their child’s education? These are all possibilities.  Listening to students and families, evaluating their feedback, and being open to adapting will be a valuable way to serve students and families.   It also requires looking internally at the capacity for change within your school and assessing the needs of your team to support change.  Balancing the external needs of students and families and the internal needs of the team is a critical step in determining the time for change. 

How to Change

It takes wisdom to assess and implement a successful process for change.  It is crucial to include multiple perspectives, since many details need to be examined.  The impact on individual members should be considered and a plan for support provided. The leader should initiate open, transparent communication with the team to articulate the need for change, and demonstrate a sense of calm, purposeful direction that leads the team through the process (Bague, Cava & Hopkinson, 2020).  Change is risky and messy.  It should not be undertaken without intentional consideration of all the elements and support provided for those adjusting to a new reality, but navigating through it can yield great, innovative results. 

Open to Change

The beauty of change is that it brings new possibilities.  The innovation and development in online teaching has exploded.  As with anything implemented in response to a significant and sudden crisis, not all online education has been excellent.  We need to start searching for the gems and build on those positives.  I want to tell you that I have a roadmap for the post COVID-19 student, but I do not.  What we can do is keep evaluating, questioning, and searching for ways we can adjust our teaching to meet the needs of our students and families.  The world has been shaken up dramatically and how the pieces all settle is yet to be determined, but I predict it will be different.   Will you be ready and willing to change?


Bague, H., Cava, J., & Hopkinson, M. (2020).  "Applying Past Leadership Lessons to the Coronavirus Pandemic". McKinsey Insights, March 25, 2020.

Ford, J. D., Ford, L. W., & D’Amelio, A. (2008).  "Resistance to Change: The Rest of the Story".  Academy of Management Review, Vol. 33, No. 2,  364-377.

Mumby, D. K., & Kuhn, T. R. (2019) Organizational Communication: A Critical Introduction (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN: 978-1-4833-1706-9

Professor Heather Vezner first came to Concordia in 2009 as the Field Experience Coordinator and TPA Assistant Coordinator. From 2011-2015 she served as Director of Student Teaching and has most recently become Director of Preliminary Teacher Credential Programs.

Prior to coming to Concordia, Professor Vezner was an early childhood educator and administrator, an elementary teacher, and a parent educator for a grant-funded early education program. Professor Vezner has presented at numerous conferences on topics such as literacy development, creative dramatics, music and movement, and early childhood curriculum.

Professor Vezner is currently working on a doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

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