“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
Have you ever wondered how a single conversation can start you on a journey that pushed you to consider a more and deeper response to an issue than you had previously held? I have had an interesting journey since talking to John Talbot, a facilitator who we have the good fortune to work with in our district on the change process.
John was working with some administrators on the issue of change. His premise was that leaders need to have a personal understanding of their change process prior to implementing any change in their context. While his argument may seem completely logical I am not sure that we have always considered our complete understanding of a change process as a prerequisite to the implementation of initiatives in our schools and our districts.
A review of change theory has taken me back to many authors and researchers from my past.
Hattie (2009) articulates the critical change agents from his perspective. These include:
- Knowledge and skills
- A plan of action
- Strategies to overcome setbacks
- A high sense of confidence
- Monitoring progress
- A commitment to achieve
- Social and environmental support
- Freedom, control or choice
There are many other processesand theorists to consider. Some that you might recognize include:
- Bill Moyer’s “Four Roles of Social Movements”
- The 4-D Process of Appreciative Inquiry
- The Kuebler-Ross Model of Change
- John Kotter’s Change Model
- The Change Journey
Michael Fullan has again forced me to think more critically and deeply about educational change. In his recent article “Choosing the Wrong Drivers for Whole System Change” Fullan forces us to look critically at the elements of change and which ones work in our present context and in our present circumstances. He clearly articulates that there are many elements of change and that at times all have influence on large scale change. However he cautions us that if used alone or as central drivers, they may get us to a better place systemically but not as far as we think we need to go.
His thesis is that there are certain drivers that will get better results than others. He suggests we should focus on four systemically related big drivers that work.
1. The learning-instruction-assessment nexus
2. Social capital to build the profession
3. Pedagogy matches technology
4. Systemic synergy
For me he is reminding us that we are about teaching and learning and the more we focus on that as a system the better will be the results for learners and for the system. He reminds us to build capacity of all learners and members of our community. He reminds us that it is the pedagogy of teaching that is important and that the use of technology should be viewed as an important support but cannot replace good pedagogy. He finally reminds us that change should include everyone. We need to find ways to include, motivate and support all in the organization.
Fullan’s belief that whole system change is the name of the game and that the four drivers above have the greatest impact is much appreciated. He has coerced me into an analysis of what works in certain situations and not in a check list approach to change. When I examine these in relation to our district I think we have great promise for continued support of the learners we serve and can be a compelling example of “Learning Without Boundaries”. Our approach, as Andy Hargreaves continues to articulate must be about whole system growth and improvement and not about individual schools. Fullan’s essay has helped reinforce that lesson for me as an educator.
“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant