Saturday, May 8, 2010

How Change Occurs

Was reading The Challenge to Care in Charm City, and came across reference to this article by Beverly Anderson in Educational Leadership. It made me think about whether the change Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to implement is inevitable. Perhaps all the bickering is just all the powers that be trying to look good with their respective constituents, rather than an honest resistance to change. Here are the six stages of institutional changes as found in the article:

Stages of Systemic Change
Six stages of change characterize the shift from a traditional educational system to one that emphasizes interconnectedness, active learning, shared decision making, and higher levels of achievement for all students. Although Figure 1 displays the six developmental stages as linear and distinct, change is unlikely to follow a linear path. An education system will seldom be clearly at one of these stages but will usually experience “Brownian motion,” going back and forth from one stage to another on the path toward an ideal situation. The six stages are:

Maintenance of the Old System:
Educators focus on maintaining the system as originally designed. They do not recognize that the system is fundamentally out of sync with the conditions of today's world. New knowledge about teaching, learning, and organizational structures has not been incorporated into the present structure.

Awareness: Multiple stakeholders become aware that the current system is not working as well as it should, but they are unclear about what is needed instead.

Exploration: Educators and policy-makers study and visit places that are trying new approaches. They try new ways of teaching and managing, generally in low-risk situations.

Transition: The scales tip toward the new system; a critical number of opinion leaders and groups commit themselves to the new system and take more risks to make changes in crucial places.

Emergence of New Infrastructure: Some elements of the system are operated in keeping with the desired new system. These new ways are generally accepted.

Predominance of the New System: The more powerful elements of the system operate as defined by the new system. Key leaders begin to envision even better systems.

I admit I don't know that many people, but many of those I've talked with- teachers, parents, or just concerned citizens- seem supportive of an institutional change to the way things are done. Maybe tipping the scales is not so far away. Not sure if this letter by the Maryland State Education Association to the Maryland State Department of Education is completely genuine, or is any indication, but at least its a step in the right direction.

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