Thought Leaders and Historical Events in Education


Education and educational reforms are essential topics since schools and universities are the primary sites for preparing future doctors, lawyers, teachers, managers, and other specialists. Therefore, the need for evaluation of innovations in this field by knowledgeable thought leaders is critical. One such prominent leader in the sphere of education is Michael Fullan, the University of Toronto’s Professor Emeritus and policy advisor to the Minister of Education of Ontario (Fullan, 2018). As an experienced researcher, he consults various innovational programs and changes initiatives in schools, encouraging collaboration, justice, diversity, respecting identity, and taking action (Fullan, 2018). These initiatives became particularly crucial in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, especially during the strict lockdown period in 2020 when COVID-19 emerged (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2020). Indeed, before and during the pandemic, Fullan recommended using communication software, delivering necessary learning materials, maintaining an emotional connection with families of various cultural backgrounds, and encouraging collaboration to ensure equal access to education.

Fullan’s View of Transforming Traditional Classroom

Even though traditional in-class education has always been perceived as superior to online learning, the COVID-19 pandemic forced teachers and leaders to reconsider this paradigm. In fact, according to Hargreaves and Fullan (2020), a prominent scholar Dan Lortie claimed that teachers would never change and follow the conventional path of giving knowledge. However, the 2020 global lockdown made them quickly adopt technology and software to educate children remotely because terminating education for an unknown period was not an option (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2020). In a way, “the COVID-19 have produced what has been termed a ‘supernova’ effect,” which resulted in the perspective shift about how education should look nowadays (Azorín & Fullan, 2022, p. 132). Teachers had to learn to use communication software and ought to ensure proper scheduling for group and individual online meetings (Pinchot & Fullan, 2021). For the entire global community, this historical event revealed flaws in the traditional educational system, showing the importance of innovative change.

Learning Materials Amid the Pandemic

Many educational materials were made available online during the pandemic. Still, according to Hargreaves and Fullan (2020), “during COVID-19, … lots of hard and soft copy materials were delivered to most families” (p. 331). However, books were insufficient for students to comprehend the material, demanding teachers to identify ways of explaining while lacking an opportunity for personal contact with all students. Thus, they recorded additional videos and prepared helpful notes for children and their parents to elaborate on tasks and textbook information.

Connecting with Students’ Families

One topic considered complex, regardless of the learning mode, is teacher-parent interaction. Even though both parties usually strived for productive communication for the benefit of children, online education affected this aspect severely. In fact, the survey of educators showed that 60% felt emotionally disconnected from teaching during the lockdown because student engagement in classes dropped during lockdown (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2020, p. 331). Hence, educational leaders had to develop effective networking methods by ensuring that all families’ questions and requests were appropriately addressed and disadvantaged groups were supported (Harris, 2020). Furthermore, Fullan (2018) claims that it is critical to respect the social identity of students and their families, ensure equal and just treatment regardless of their cultural background, and show active support. The COVID-19 crisis showed that educators, school leaders, and caregivers should change how they perceive teaching and communication to help students learn effectively under unexpected circumstances.

Fullan’s Idea of Collaborative Learning and Teaching

Although the notion of individualism became an essential feature of the Western world, COVID-19 seemed to encourage collaborative learning and teaching. Indeed, despite Lortie’s predictions about the importance of studying individually, Fullan and his colleagues presented a newer and more effective approach of cooperation and communication (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2020; Loose, 2019). This approach improved student outcomes and raised teachers’ satisfaction with work (Hargreaves & Fullan, 2020). Moreover, in education, “the global response to COVID-19 has certainly resulted in a proliferation of new networks,” school leaders “networked leadership practice” became “widely distributed and innately collaborative” (Harris, 2020, p. 324). Notably, a collaboration between school leaders and educators is believed to be essential amid the pandemic because it allows for knowledge sharing and experience exchange between experts, boosting educational results.

Fullan’s Impact During the Pandemic

Being an experienced researcher, educator, and thought leader, Michael Fullan continues consulting policymakers in this field to ensure that learners’ and teachers’ best interests are served. In one of his articles, Fullan presented a model of leadership in education that will be suitable not only for the realities of the pandemic but also for 21st-century teaching (Fullan, 2020). Specifically, he claims that educational systems should transform to linear leadership models, create a supportive school environment, and encourage collaboration between students and teachers (Fullan, 2020). Moreover, he introduced the idea that academic achievements are inferior to creating connectedness in classrooms, which, in the longer term, produces better results (Fullan, 2019). Indeed, cooperation is an integral element of many of Fullan’s works.

Fullan and his colleagues believed collaboration to be essential for withstanding external threats and challenges, and their strategy was found to be effective during the pandemic. For instance, educators of Heritage Elementary School in California used to hold a 50-minute meeting once a week before COVID-19, but they altered their schedules to daily 30-minutes online conferences (Pinchot & Fullan, 2021). This approach “allowed teachers to together review student needs and monitor progress, … share instructional practices, reflect and redesign, and celebrate successes” (Pinchot & Fullan, 2021, p. 2). Overall, Fullan’s ideas significantly boosted student performance in schools, strengthened cooperation between educators, and made education more culturally responsive and equal for all.

Putting Research into Action in the Classroom and the Community

The abovementioned findings of this research can be applied to my classroom and community in three specific ways. The COVID-19 pandemic caused uncertainty about preparation for important entrance tests to undergraduate and graduate level institutions (Hooge & Pont, 2020). Thus, my first recommendation is to organize support groups and a website to help students find answers about examinations and assist them with scheduling. Furthermore, those who successfully passed these tests should be offered part-time positions to mentor younger students, encouraging educational collaboration. Secondly, schools should consider implementing decentralized and distributive leadership with moderate coordination from leaders, granting teachers more freedom (Glatter, 2020). Thirdly, based on Fullan’s ideas, I suggest organizing daily 30-minute Zoom meetings for teachers and parents to discuss their children’s challenges and successes. Such communication will not only build trust between families and educators but will also help students succeed.


Fullan’s contribution to improving educational leadership and research cannot be overstated since he continues publishing articles and books and consults politicians about school reforms. His works and ideas were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this crisis, schools had to transfer to online mode while trying to maintain students’ interest, provide materials, cooperate with parents, and encourage collaboration between students and teachers. Indeed, collaboration, support, and equal access to education are the central notions that transcend all of Fullan’s works.


AzorĂ­n, C., & Fullan, M. (2022). Leading new, deeper forms of collaborative cultures: Questions and pathways. Journal of Educational Change, 23(1), 131-143.

Fullan, M. (2018). Surreal change: The real life of transforming public education. Routledge.

Fullan, M. (2019). The nuance of academic achievement [Abstract]. Australian Educational Leader, 41(1), 8-10.

Fullan, M. (2020). The nature of leadership is changing. European Journal of Education, 55(2), 139-142.

Glatter, R. (2020). Book review: System Leadership: Policy and practice in the English schools system, by Susan Cousin. London Review of Education, 18(2), 315-317.

Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2020). Professional capital after the pandemic: Revisiting and revising classic understandings of teachers’ work. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 5(3), 327-336.

Harris, A. (2020). COVID-19–school leadership in crisis? Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 5(3), 321-326.

Hooge, E., & Pont, B. (2020). School leadership in unpredictable times. European Journal of Education, 55(2), 135–138.

Loose, W. (2019). Book review: Deep learning: Engage the world change the world. Journal of Catholic Education, 22(2), 122-127.

Pinchot, M., & Fullan, M. (2021). Testing sustainability: How strong school cultures meet (and beat) disaster. Michael Fullan. Web.

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