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Four Best Practices for School Transformation

As technological advances become a central part of our life, traditional education needs to step up the game to accommodate our twenty-first-century learners. Acknowledging these concerns, many academic researchers and educators have discussed transforming and restructuring our education system to be suitable for current needs.

When we research about school transformation, we found this study conducted in two Malaysian schools to be relevant to the situation in Vietnam.

The case study observes the transformation of one primary school and one secondary school. Through an overhaul of leadership, infrastructure, instructional design, and school culture, both schools have made impactful changes that overrun the traditional way of education.

In Waheed, Hussin, and Daud (2017) study, the researchers have found four characteristics that contribute the most to the success of these school transformations. The four themes are adaptive and multi-dimensional leadership, winning the hearts, extensive use of Information and Communication Technology, and culture of acquiring and sharing professional knowledge.

Adaptive and Multi-dimensional leadership

Evidently, both case schools had leaders who demonstrated multiple leadership behaviors facilitating transformation. They created a shared vision and displayed a strong commitment to promote and achieve it. Thus, one of the best practices in selected transformed schools was “adaptive and multi-dimensional leadership”, with leaders working as change agents, financial resource managers, community facilitators, instructional facilitators and moral agents.


Apart from the leaders’ instructional ability and great leadership qualities, they also needed compassion and understanding to steer their ship onto the right track. Both leaders in the study used “winning-the-heart” strategies to let school employees know their best intentions. One leader even used emotions as a tool to facilitate the process of change.

Leaders in successful schools were known to be friendly and cheerful in the school environment. Everybody gained from the productivity and positivity of the leaders. They also celebrated small wins and provided recognition for achievements and contributions.

Use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in the classroom

School leaders were the ones motivating and pushing teachers to use ICT in schools. In the study, schools that had the most transformational change in terms of students’ achievement also had school leaders who use ICT extensively.

The integration of ICT did not only occur at management levels but also among the teaching staff community and the students. Considering that digital citizenship is the most essential skill of the twenty-first century, both schools went out of their way to provide both teachers and students the best facilities for interactive learning through online platforms. In School B, teachers had the opportunity to attend a Microsoft training session on implementing interactive learning in classroom teachings. On the other hand, students also had a special ICT room, equipped with Microsoft Surface 3 tablets, special tables, chairs, smartboard where they designed digital learning lessons and connected with peers all over the world.

Apart from the instructional design, ICT was also being integrated into school administration and management tasks. Daily updates, administrative information, latest courses, and classroom management were constantly referred online. The filing system was also being digitalized. As a result, the students’ demographics, results, and other related information could be retrieved simply by a click of the button.

Building a culture of acquiring and sharing professional knowledge

In both participating schools, teaching was not considered as merely a job. Instead, it was a collective responsibility among teachers. Both schools demonstrated a strong professional learning community, where the teachers were encouraged to share their best practices, knowledge, and skills. Those who had the opportunity to attend training and workshops outside the school were comfortable sharing knowledge with others in regular reflection sessions.


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