Archive for the 'Organizational Change' Category

Develop Leadership

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Well, I blasted through Thanksgiving without a post… but I can definitely echo Will’s sentiments, and I have to take at least a moment to disagree with Dave Winer. I think we do need a Thanksgiving 2.0 – something that gets back to the roots of the holiday (ie. giving thanks, which surprisingly was not a part of the extended family festivities I attended yesterday… I don’t get the impression this is uncommon) and something that is far healthier than the binge eating most American’s partake in.

At any rate, I’m writing again (still working on that last KAM), and here is part 4 of 10 in the depth, a brief focus on developing leadership in a professional learning community… for the purpose of instigating school change initiatives such as the introduction of video games and simulations for teaching and learning of course. Again, this is a DRAFT, but I am open to any feedback. I hope to pull together a completed version of this paper in the next couple of weeks. This all moves so slow! What with work and life and all…

4. Develop Leadership

A professional learning community cannot exist without leadership. Hord (2004) “found clear evidence that the administrator is key to the existence of a professional learning community” (p. 20), while Huffman and Hipp (2003) also noted that in a successful professional learning community, “leadership pervades the organization” (p. xvii). It follows that change agents who hope to bring about positive change in schools by developing professional learning communities must also take steps to develop leadership at all levels of their organization, in administrators, in teachers, and even in students.

According to DuFour and Eaker (1998), “to have the greatest impact, principals must define their job as helping to create a professional learning communities in which teachers can continually collaborate and learn how to become more effective” (p. 184). In addition, principals must model “behavior that is congruent with the vision and values of the school” (DuFour & Eaker, 1998, p. 193), remain results-oriented (p. 194), and find a balance in the paradox between urgency and patience within the change process (p. 195). Later, DuFour, Eaker, and DuFour (2005) wrote that principals should model lifelong learning (p. 120) and serve as a “leading learner” (p. 121), or “head learner” as Roberts & Pruitt (2003, p. 26) called it. Huffman and Hipp (2003) also considered principals “co-learners” who modeled the “the level of learning expected from the professional staff” (p. 14). Furthermore, the goal of the principal should be to “build a staff of lifelong learners” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 121).

Walde and Castleberry (2000) also saw a leader as an “architect of relationships” (p. 27). This is a very different sort of leadership than the traditional top-down authoritative model that has been expected of principals in the past. DuFour and Eaker (1998) expected “principals of professional learning communities [to] lead through shared vision and values rather than through rules and procedures” (p. 184). Rather than directing others what to do, “principals of professional learning communities involve faculty members in the school’s decision-making process and empower individuals to act” (p. 185). Huffman and Hipp (2003) thought that “the ability of principals to relinquish power is essential for the support of professional learning communities” (p. 14). These principals do, however, provide direction by providing staff “with the information, training, and parameters they need to make good decisions” (DuFour & Eaker, 1998, 186). In fact, Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) viewed administrators as “leaders of leaders” (p. 22). Huffman and Hipp expressed this by saying that:

“In PLCs, principals are not coercive or controlling, but seek to share power and distribute leadership among staff. In turn, staff increasingly become open to changing roles and responsibilities. Principals let go of power and nurture the human side and expertise of the entire school community. Shared responsibility is apparent through broad-based decision making that reflects commitment and accountability.” (Huffman & Hipp, 2003, p. 38)

If principals are leaders of leaders, then clearly the teachers, too, must serve as leaders in a professional learning community where leadership is shared. Hord (2004) advocated building teacher leadership within a traditional school structure (p. 140). She felt that “principals must be both willing to share leadership and able to develop conditions and communicate expectations that will advance shared leadership among school professionals” (p. 140). Huffman and Hipp (2003) described this kind of leadership saying, “it’s not like a leadership that’s passed around; it’s worn at all times by anyone who wants it” (p. 32). They called this “pervasive leadership” (p. 34). For Hord (2004), the development of shared (or pervasive) leadership enhances, and is enhanced by, team teaching (p. 9). As Stone and Cuper (2006) wrote, teachers come to “rely on each other’s areas of strength… [and] to support, help, and laugh with each other” (p. 101). For this reason, Stone and Cuper also advocated “collaboration pods” (p. 19), not unlike the teams suggested in the DuFours’ model. Stone and Cuper also understood that:

“the finest educational leadership… it is the leadership of teachers – big-spirited, compassionate, and inventive teachers who lead through their willingness to reach out to their colleagues and their communities. It is the leadership of teachers who are always on the lookout fro ways to enhance their practice through the use of new technologies, through professional development, and through discovering and sharing the talents of the people living in their communities” (Stone and Cuper, 2006, p. xi)

Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002), too, viewed teachers as “transformational leaders” (p. 22). Similarly, Huffman and Hipp (2003) noted that “setting expectations often begins with the principal, but in the high-readiness schools at the implementation phase, the teachers quickly assumed the responsibility for continuing to develop and to sustain those expectations” (p. 42).

Many of these theorists even advocated that leadership reach down to the student level. DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour (2005) acknowledged that “”the principal who joins with the faculty and students in learning activities is the one who changes the school culture into one that is hospitable to lifelong learning” (p. 121); student are included in the creation of this culture. Earlier Roberts and Pruitt explained that “leaders are not limited to the administrative ranks. Leaders may be staff members, parents, community members, or even students” (p. 176). Huffman and Hipp (2003) had documented schools in which “”teachers teach the students to lead one another, so there’s a bunch of leaders in [the] school” (p. 32), and later Stone and Cuper (2006) advocated that educators “designate student peer leaders in the classroom” (p. 146).

Developing meaningful and effective leadership abilities at each level of the organization – administrators, teachers, and students – requires a good deal of capacity building. After all, as Hord (2004) points out, “at the beginning, most teachers did not have experience with site based decision making, and principals often had to provide training on new roles and responsibilities” (p. 47). She noted that “of equal importance to establishing shared decision-making structures was the ability of the principals to increase decision-making capacity among their staff” (p. 49). She went on to explain several principal capacities that help build leadership in others, including listening (p. 146), knowledge of teaching and learning (p. 146), and consistency of follow through (p. 147). Hord also recommends recruiting external change agents to help with this process (p. 149).

If a change agent, internal or external, is helping an organization develop a professional learning community so that other change initiatives, such as the integration of video games and simulations into teaching and learning, might be more effective, then in addition to respecting the realities of change, establishing mission, vision, values, and goals, and focusing on what’s important, they must also be sure to develop leadership at all levels of the organization. Clearly efforts at building the leadership capacity of administrators are important, but these efforts should also be extended to include teachers (and even students) so that a culture of shared leadership can be developed at the school. There is no need to delay a change initiative in order to develop this leadership capacity, but this need for leadership development should be addressed as a part of any school change effort.

References

To provide professional development Consultancy and School Change.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Here’s a fun moment I want to share as a former educator in his first year as a consultant… This morning I signed a boiler plate Services Agreement generated by a district I’m working with. The first item of the agreement reads:

1. To provide professional development Consultancy and School Change.

On my business cards and other materials I promote my services as “Professional Development, Consulting, and School Change,” but it’s fun to actually sign an agreement to provide school change as a service. Tall order, though, eh? Or, if looked at in another way, at least it’s guaranteed. ;)

Focus on What’s Important

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

I know this sounds like the title of an “and life” post, but this is just the next section in the paper I am writing about professional learning communities, school change, and… video games as an educational technology. I completed this draft while traveling yesterday.

I’m currently at the CLMS/CLHS/NHSA and CUE technology conference in Monterey. CUEtoYOU presented two sessions yesterday, and four more today, including my Podcasting session. Sadly, I got a bad review in the batch. But I suppose that’s part of the purpose of coming to conferences (as a learner who presents)… getting feedback and improving. Still, it’s tough to get an outlier like that, especially when I know I’m low on sleep and could’ve done much better. :(

I guess this is an “and Life” post after all. I’m reminding myself to focus on what’s important… I met with a room full of people who signed up for a podcasting class because they didn’t know what it was… and I taught a lot of people about podcasting with their students using free tools. And, of course, all day long I had some great conversations with other presenters and attendees. :)

At any rate, I just finished making some changes to my “practical blogging” presentation for tomorrow afternoon and am only now finding time to post this. Naturally I still have lots of posts to catch up on, including the Google Teacher Academy report/reflection (and my next post at infinitethinking.org), but for now I am turning in. I want to be able to get up and see David Warlick’s keynote in the morning… and not be quite so short on sleep tomorrow.

Please leave feedback if you read the following draft. I’m getting there with this final KAM…

3. Focus on What’s Important

School change of any kind involves so many variables, it is imperative that change agents focus on what is important. This ability to focus only on what is important is also a critical characteristic of successful professional learning communities.

DuFour and Eaker (1998) pointed out that “schools communicate what is important to them and what is valued by what they focus on” (p. 107). For instance, celebration, which plays an important role in sustaining a professional learning community, “reinforces shared values and signals what is important” (p. 143). However, this focus is also more than just a tool for clear communication. Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour, 2002, described a cultural shift in professional learning communities from “a focus on a wide variety of things and an effort to ‘get the plan turned in’ and then subsequently ignoring it to… a focus on a few important goals that will affect student learning… a vehicle for organized, sustained school improvement” (p. 24). This cultural shift is not limited to the organization; Hord recommended “recruiting external change agents who can ask the important questions” (p. 149) as a part of establishing and maintaining organizational focus.

Most importantly, professional learning community theorists call for schools to focus on student learning. DuFour and Eaker (1998) assert that “the curriculum is a critical component of a school that functions as a professional learning community” (p. 178) and that “the curriculum should reduce content and enable all parties to focus on essential and significant learning” (p. 179; see also Eaker, DuFour and DuFour, 2002, p. 19). Huffman & Hipp (2003) expressed a different but related take on this focus, saying that a professional learning community “focuses, first and foremost, upon learning on the part of professionals in the school as the way to increase learning on the part of students” (p. 76). Roberts and Pruitt (2003) agreed that “the ultimate purpose of the movement to the learning community model is to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for students” (p. 11). They also believed that “the primary focus of professional development is student outcomes; it is results driven and focused on curriculum and standards” (p. 52). As she explained the importance of developing collective values and visions, Hord (2004) described the importance of becoming student focused (p. 45). This focus on student learning is no less important to an educational technology initiative, including one that would include video games and simulations. In fact, improved student learning (and achievement) is the purpose behind introducing such technologies into schools.

This focus, in fact, is what DuFour, Eaker, and DuFour (2005) later identified as Big Idea #1 with respect to professional learning communities, “ensuring that students learn” (p. 32; see also DuFour, DuFour, and Eaker, 2006, p. 2). These authors offered two other big ideas that professional learning communities, and in a broader sense any change initiative, should focus on. Big Idea #2 is a focus on “a culture of collaboration” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 36; DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2006, p. 3), a key to successful organizational change. Stone and Cuper (2006), too, advocated collaboration (p. 19, 46, 83), as do Hord (2004, p.52, 152), Huffman and Hipp (2003, p 62), and Roberts and Pruitt (2003, p. 137, 179). Big Idea #3, then, is to “focus on results” (Eaker, DuFour, & DuFour, 2002, p. 44-45; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Karhanek, 2004, p. 134-148, 175; DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 20, 31, 39; DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2006, p. 4), or in other words to “focus on outcomes rather than on inputs or intentions” (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2006, p. 63). Wald and Castleberry (2000) included this focus on results not only as a means for change, but also as the end of their “roller coaster of change” process (p. 42). Roberts and Pruitt (2003) also described professional learning communities that were “results driven and focused on curriculum” (p. 52), and Hord (2004) advocated “researching for results” (p. 124). It follows that any attempt to integrate educational technologies such as video games and simulations should maintain a similar focus on ensuring that students learn, creating a culture of collaboration, and on achieving results.

Capacity building is another important focus of professional learning communities. DuFour, DuFour, and Eaker (2006) explained their expectations by stating that “members of a PLC are not ‘invited’ to work with colleagues: they are called upon to be contributing members of a collective effort to improve the school’s capacity to help all students learn at high levels” (p. 8). They also believed that “leaders must start… shifting their focus from evaluating and supervising individuals to developing the capacity of both teams and the entire school to work collaboratively” (DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 239). Similarly, one of the outcomes of professional learning communities that Hord (2004) sought was an increase in “organizational capacity… the capacity of the staff to work well as a unit” (p. 12). Hord observed that “of equal importance to establishing shared decision-making structures was the ability of the principals to increase decision-making capacity among their staff” (p. 49). Huffman and Hipp (2003), too, called for professional learning communities to focus on “increase[ing] individual and organizational capacity” (p. 11; see also p. 31), and Kaagan (2004) discussed “collective capacity building” (p. 3). Stone and Cuper (2006) were even interested in developing students’ capacity; they promoted a philosophy of “each one, teach one… [which] designate[d] student peer leaders in the classroom” (p. 146). Once again the importance of risk-taking in the culture of a professional learning community is evident, as it is a necessary element of capacity building; Wald and Castleberry (2000) point out that “a climate that encourages risk taking is fundamental when staff members need to stretch beyond what they know and explore frontiers” (p. 24).

While the very act of focusing efforts on what has been identified as important to the organization can improve the likelihood of success for any change initiative, there are also particular elements worthy of focus in many cases. Based on the work of these professional learning community theorists, it seems that any school change effort, including the integration of video games and simulations as educational technologies, might benefit from a focus on ensuring student learning, creating a culture of collaboration, achieving results, and building capacity at all levels of the organization.

References

Establish Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I had hoped to write all day today (because I’ll be at the CLMS conference in Monterey this weekend), but there was far too much work to do and one thing continued to lead to another until dinner time. Thankfully, as soon as Eva left for Tennis I started writing, and here is the next section of my KAM… the second of ten for the depth portion, to be followed by my annotated bibliography and the application portion of the KAM.

I find that as I write I seem to be recommending that schools set about becoming professional learning communities in order to increase the likelihood of educational technology change initiatives being successful. As I reflect on this, I realize that this is indeed exactly what I mean to be suggesting. I think this is an important point… just as a computer in a classroom won’t make much difference if the teacher is not working with a constructivist pedagogy, so a major change intiative won’t make a difference in a school if the culture is not explicitly or essentially a professional learning community. This statement sits well with my experience of educational technology and organizational change.

At any rate, here is section two of the depth portion of my KAM. Now on to section three for me…

2. Establish Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals

Establishing a professional learning community (PLC) is important to the success of school change initiatives, and a critical step in establishing a PLC is to generate a shared sense of mission and vision as well as shared values and goals.

In order for any large-scale or long-term change to be successful in an educational institution, the organization must have a sense of mission, or what DuFour and Eaker (1998) also called a shared “sense of purpose” (p. 59). This is not unlike the imperative of moral purpose that Fullan called for (in the breadth portion of this KAM). According to DuFour and Eaker (1998), a school mission statement must answer the question “why do we exist?” (p. 58). Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) described the need for a cultural shift from generic mission statements to specific “statements that clarify what students will learn… how we will know what the students are learning… [and] how the school will respond when students do not learn” (p. 13). Roberts and Pruitt (2003) stated this economically when they explained that “a mission statement is a brief, succinct statement that explains the purpose for which a school exists” (p. 30). Without such a mission statement it would be impossible to know whether or not a change initiative, such as the implementation of video games and simulations as constructivist learning environments would help the school achieve its purpose.

The vision statement, then, answers the question “what do we hope to become? Whereas mission establishes an organization’s purpose, vision instills an organization with a sense of direction” (DuFour and Eaker, 1998, p. 62). Roberts and Pruit (2003) described a shared vision as “a shared image of what you desire your school to look like in the future” (p. 30). DuFour and Eaker suggested that the process of crafting a vision statement include representatives of the school, district, parents, community, and local businesses (p. 67). Roberts and Pruitt (2003) agreed, noting that it is particularly “important that teachers be involved from the inception of the vision building process if they are to share in and commit to putting the vision into practice” (p. 30). DuFour and Eaker (1998) cautioned, though, that “informed decisions require informed groups and individuals” (p. 69) who are “operating from a research base” (p. 70). If a diverse selection of stakeholders are to be responsible for a school vision, school leadership must invest in building the representatives’ capacity for vision building. Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) also described the need for a cultural shift from “average statements (or wish lists) that are dictated (or developed by a few) and that are often ignored to… statements that are research based, credible, focused on essentials, used as a blueprint for improvement, and widely shared through broad collaboration” (p. 14). Huffman and Hipp (2003), inspired by Hord’s model (discussed in the previous section of this KAM) included shared vision in their model of the professional learning community as well. Once the vision is established, it should play “a significant role in all aspects of the daily work life of a principal and its importance should be reflected in the principal’s behavior” (Roberts & Pruit, 2003, p. 36). As Wald and Castleberry (2000) wrote, “to sustain this communal energy and hope, the leader must hold the vision high for all to see, constantly revisit it, expand on it, and continuously help members of the community connect with it and find ways to personalize it and make it their own.” This is especially true for change agents who are helping educators learn to use new technologies, such as video games and simulations, to improve learning in their schools.

Values are even more specific than mission and vision statements. DuFour, and Eaker (1998) explain that “while a mission statement asks the school to consider why it exists, and a vision statement asks what it might become, a statement of core values asks people to clarify how they intent to make their shared vision a reality” (p. 88). Despite the increased specificity, they recommend that schools write value statements that are few in number, brief, linked directly to the vision statement, and focused on behavior (rather than beliefs) – and on the school (rather than others, such as parents or the district) (p. 95-97). Later, Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) described the need for a cultural shift from “from values that are random, excessive in number, articulated as beliefs, an focusing on the self to… values that are linked to vision, few in number, used as a blueprint for improvement, and are articulated as behaviors and commitments” (p. 16). Huffman and Hipp (2003), inspired by Hord’s model (discussed in the previous section) also included shared values in their model of the professional learning community. Wald and Castleberry (2000) identified “the next challenge of leadership… making visible these mutually held values and beliefs” (p. 22), and this is as much a challenge for an educational technologist as it is for a principal.

Finally, goals describe what steps will be taken and when (DuFour and Eaker, 1998, p. 100). DuFour and Eaker noted that it is especially important that “a school improvement plan must be attentive to creating some clear, discernible victories., not just hoping for them” (p. 101). They went on to explain that “effective goals will specify:

  • Exactly what is to be accomplished
  • The specific steps that will be taken to achieve the goal.
  • The individual or group responsible for initiating and/or sustaining each step toward achieving the goal.
  • The timeline for each phase of the activity.
  • The criteria to be used in evaluating progress toward the goal.” (DuFour and Eaker, 1998, p. 101-102)

Again, Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) described the need for a cultural shift:

“from statements that are random, excessive in number, focused on means rather than ends, impossible to assess or measure, and not monitored, to… statements that are linked to the vision, few in number, focused on desired outcomes, translated into measurable performance standards, monitored continuously, and designed to produce short-term wins and also stretch aspirations” (Eaker, DuFour, &DuFour, 2002, p. 17)

For Wald and Castleberry (2000), it was important that “members of the [professional learning] community are aligned around common goals” (p. 4). Huffman and Hipp (2003) identified “a set of attainable reform goals with long time lines for accomplishing them” (p. 4) as one of the characteristics of reforms with the most promise. Hord (2004), too, called for “clear goals for high-quality learning” (p. 12) as part of her model for professional learning communities.

An educational technologist or change agent responsible for the integration of video games and simulations into the learning culture of a school must also offer this level of specificity and guidance in order for their visions (or more importantly, the school’s shared vision for these technologies) to be realized. Each of these levels, mission, vision, values, and goals, must be addressed for a change initiative to have the best chance of success. Naturally, this will be most likely if the school has already developed the culture of a professional learning community.

References

Depth Introduction: Professional Learning Communities

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Don’t worry… there are more posts about my work on their way. In the meantime I’m going to continue to share what I’m writing for my final KAM (Knowledge Area Module) prior to my dissertation.

Each KAM has a breadth component, a depth component, and an application component. The demonstration for each is a paper of about thirty pages. I’ve been posting the various sections of the breadth component of my final KAM, and with this post I begin the depth portion. The breadth component investigated the organizational change theories of Senge, Evans, and Fullan. This depth portion focuses in on professional learning communities through the work of Richard and Rebecca DuFour, their colleagues, and others. Again, this is all discussed from the perspective of a change agent hoping to integrate new educational technologies such as video games and simulations.

If you like, feel free to leave feedback.

Introduction

The breadth portion of this Knowledge Area Module (KAM) synthesized the work of Senge, Evans, and Fullan to produce a preliminary working theory of school change that can be used to guide the process of integrating video games and simulations as educational technologies in a constructivist learning environment. To further develop the preliminary working theory, this depth portion of the KAM will present a synthesis of prominent theories on professional learning communities (PLCs), learning organizations in which educators work collaboratively to “create a community of commitment” (DuFour and Eaker, 1998, p. 15) to ongoing positive school change. Prominent theorists who will be included in this examination are DuFour & DuFour (and their colleagues), Wald & Castlebury, Huffman & Hipp, Roberts & Pruit, Hord, and Stone & Cuper.

The work of the authors discussed in the breadth portion both laid the foundation for professional learning communities and was influenced by the literature on professional learning communities. Senge et al. (1994) were interested in “redefining organizations as communities” (p. 507), and later wrote about the importance of “informal networks and professional communities” (Senge et al., 1999, p. 49) and “communities of practice” (Senge et al., 1999, p. 477-480). For Senge et al, “communities of practice are not defined. They have no names, no formal memberships, and no status. But they move information” (p. 478). The professional learning communities discussed below are an attempt to formalize these communities of practice. By 2000, a reverse influence was apparent; the communities Senge et al. called for were beginning to sound a lot like the DuFours’ professional learning communities (Senge et al., 2000, p. 326-328 & 330-331). Evans alluded to the DuFours’ as early as 1996 when he wrote that “many experts insist on a distinction: mission refers to basic purpose, vision to future direction, and core values to underlying beliefs and guiding principles” (p. 207). Fullan then referred to professional learning communities explicitly and frequently from 1999 to 2006 (Fullan, 1999, p. 31 & 32; Fullan, 2001a, p. 64 ; Fullan, 2001b p. 91, 147, 149, 159, 165, 180, 259, 269, 270 , 272, ; Fullan, 2003, p. 9 ; Fullan 2006, p. 9, 93). In 2006, Fullan even mentioned Richard DuFour by name in his acknowledgements (p. xix).

In fact, DuFour and DuFour, and their frequent co-author, Eaker, might be considered the most influential authors in the field of professional learning communities. They also cited Senge and Fullan frequently and consistently (DuFour and Eaker, 1998, p. xiii, 9, 13, 24, 27, 29, 50, 63 105, 182, 235; DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, Karhanek, 2004, p. xiv; DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour, 2005, p. 9). In response to decades of disappointing school reform efforts, DuFour and Eaker (1998) offered professional learning communities as a new model for school change. This model included building the foundation of a professional learning community, sustaining the school improvement process, and embedding change in the culture of a school and its surrounding community. Eaker, DuFour, and DuFour (2002) offered additional resources for those schools just beginning the process of establishing a professional learning community. In 2004, DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, and Karhanek focused their efforts on how professional learning communities respond when kids don’t learn. (Later, they would also focus on how to respond when students already know what teachers want them to learn. DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2006, p. 2). In 2005, DuFour, DuFour, and Eakers edited a volume of essays from written by colleagues whose experiences illustrated the power of professional learning communities.

In addition to the DuFours and their colleagues, there are many other authors contributing to this field. Wald and Castleburry (2000), who also cited Senge often, focused on educators as learners in their volume on creating a professional learning community in a school. Huffman and Hipp’s (2003) contribution on reculturing schools as professional learning communities discussed the challenges of developing PLCs from initiation to implementation and beyond, and included several case studies. This volume also cited DuFour and Eaker as well as Senge, Evans, and Fullan. In 2003, Roberts and Pruitt, who cite both Senge and DuFour, published a collection of collaborative activities and strategies for professional development in schools that function as professional learning communities. Like Roberts and Pruitt, Kaagan (2004), who cites Senge and Fullan, released a collection of thirty reflective staff development exercises for educators, which were also ideal for professional learning communities. Hord, another influential theorist in the field, edited a volume of essays in 2004 focused on changing schools through professional learning communities, and particularly through collaborative learning and leading. The contributing authors also cited Senge and the DuFours. Most recently, Stone and Cuper (2006) offered additional best practices for teacher leadership in their book exploring what award-winning teachers do for their professional learning communities.

Like Senge, Evans, and Fullan, each of these authors also explicitly or implicitly supported the development of constructivist learning environments and the development of 21st Century Learning Skills as the ends for their means of school change. Just as Fullan did, Wald and Castleberry (2000) cited Dewey often, as did Huffman and Hipp (2003). In keeping with Dewey’s philosophy, DuFour and Eaker (1998) believed that “engagement and experience are the best teachers” (p. 27). These authors also believed that a context for learning was important; for instance, Roberts and Pruitt (2003) were interested in “job-embedded professional development strategies” (p. 55). DuFour, DuFour, and Eaker (2006) were also explicit about their support of inquiry-based learning, or what they called “collective inquiry: the process of building shared knowledge by clarifying the questions that a group will explore together” (p. 21), and Wald and Casselberry (2000) believed that “inquiry into underlying assumptions deepens the learning process” (p. 9). The element of collaboration was also important; Huffman AND Hipp (2003) included collective learning (p. 9) as one of their “five dimensions characteristic of schools with successful professional learning communities in place” (p. 6), and Roberts and Pruitt (2003) noted that “collaboration is the vital factor in the development and maintenance of professional learning communities” (p. 137). Reflection, too was an element of constructivism well supported by these theorists; Kagaan’s (2004) contribution, for example, was focused on the power of reflective exercises, and DuFour and Eaker (1998) explained that “reflection and dialogue were… essential to the workings of the school” (p. 37). The sorts of twenty-first century skills often promoted by constructivist educators were also promoted by these authors. DuFour, Eaker, & DuFour (2005) believed that “everyone needs to graduate from high school with adequate skills for functioning in the 21st century workplace” (p. 103), and many of these authors supported a culture of risk taking, because “in an organization that prizes learning, risks cease to be threatening, and people can learn powerful lessons form success and failure” (Wald & Castleberry, 2000, p. 24).

References

Effect Positive Social Change

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Despite the fact that it is no longer and no better written than the previous sections, this is the bit that means the most to me… and this is the area I’d most like to focus on as I move forward in this field.

Again, if you like, please leave me feedback in the comments. Naturally, this is just a quote heavy DRAFT. :)

UPDATE: I’ve included the DRAFT conclusion of the breadth portion of this KAM below as well. I didn’t think it warranted it’s own post. :)

10. Effect Positive Social Change

Not only does school change not happen in isolation, but it is not an end in itself. Schools have been created to serve the greater good, and any school change initiative – even the adoption of new educational technologies such as video games and simulations – must also serve to better society. In essence, any effort to change a school for the better should be part of a greater effort to effect positive social change. Senge, Evans, and Fullan all supported the roll of school change as a forge for social change.

Senge et al. (2000) were interested in the moral dimensions of schooling. They acknowledged that “the primary goal of public schools is to educate children for the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy” (p. 317). In addition they feel that educators should not only provide “access to knowledge,” but also “nurturing pedagogy” and “responsible stewardship of schools” (p. 280). They also resisted the trend toward standardized rote education, arguing that school is not meant merely for making people civic-minded, keeping kids off the streets, or even providing students with information; instead, they argued for a more constructivist approach of spending “ten years grappling with evidence, because so much of science is counterintuitive” (p. 559).

Evans (1996) advocated “an approach to change that emphasizes people’s need to find meaning in their life and work and the role of the school in providing that meaning” (p. xiii). He also believed that all teachers have at one time harbored “an urgent belief in the possibility of enormous social change” (p. 110), and he sought to tap into this as a motivation for school change.

Fullan, with his focus on the moral imperatives of school change, spent more time on this topic than Senge and Evans. He explained that “moral purpose means acting with the intention of making a positive difference in the lives of employees, customers, and society as a whole” (Fullan, 2001a, p. 3). Like Senge and Evans, Fullan (2001b) believed that “a strong public school system is necessary for a strong democracy, … [and that] the public system is weakening rather than getting stronger and that is a system problem, that is, a societal problem” (p. 212). He felt that “the best case for public education has always been that it is a common good” (Fullan, 2003b, p. 3). Furthermore, he suggested that “developing… capacity [for change in schools] means understanding the relationship between democracy and the public school system” (Fullan, 1999, p. 11). In keeping with his constructivist tendencies, he was concerned with “the unfinished legacy of John Dewey… [because] Dewey never addressed the problem of how… a public school system could develop let alone thrive in a society that it was to help make over” (Fullan, 1999, p. 10). Part of Fullan’s (1993) answer was that “individual moral purpose must be linked to a larger social good” (p. 38). Similarly, for Fullan, school change efforts “must be linked to a broader social, public purpose” (p. 11). Ultimately, he believed that “those engaged in education reform are those engaged in societal development” (Fullan, 1999, p. 84), , and that “the ultimate aim of education is to produce a learning society, indeed a learning globe” (Fullan, 1993, p. 135).

Fullan saw pragmatic benefits to this focus on social change. He considered the public “a third ally – in addition to policymakers and educators – not yet mobilized” (Fullan, 2003, p. 15). He also knew that “organizations must be actively plugged into their environments responding to and contributing to the issues of the day… [at least in part because] expectations and tensions in the environment contain the seeds of future development” (Fullan, 1993, p. 39). More importantly, he knew that “the reason that the twin forces of greater knowledge and greater moral commitment beyond individuals are related to sustainability is that they begin to improve the social/moral environment” (Fullan, 2003, p. 19). Perhaps most importantly, though, he wrote that “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing hordes of people engaged to do good together because of the leadership you helped produce” and he encouraged readers, writing “don’t give it another armchair thought” (Fullan, 2005, p. 104).

Those enterprising and risk-taking change agents who are already implementing video games and simulations as educational technologies are exemplifying Fullan’s ‘just do it’ philosophy, especially those who are a part of the serious games and games for change movement. As others attempt to replicate the success of these early adopters, they must keep in mind the moral purpose behind the changes they propose, and they must be sure they are introducing new technologies not for their own sake or for any other reason other than to effect positive change in society.

Conlcusion

Based on he works of Senge, Evans, and Fullan, a working theory of school change has been presented in three sections: Facilitating Organizational Change, Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change, and Integrating Organizational Change with Society. Within these three sections, ten principles of school change were presented. Five principles of school change related to Facilitating Organizational Change: respect the realities of change, use systems thinking, support personal learning, support collaborative learning, and develop leadership. Three more principles related to Overcoming Resistance to Organizational Change: respect the realities of resistance, remember psychological factors, and sustain the process. Finally, the last two principals related to Integrating School Organizational Change with Society: include family and community, and effect positive school change. These principles can, and should, be used to guide the process of integrating video games and simulations as educational technologies in a constructivist learning environment.

Even with these guiding principles to aid them, change agents will need to engage in an ongoing study of organizational change. What Senge et al. 1999 called “the dance of change” or “the inevitable interplay between growth processes and limiting processes” (p. 10) will continue to be a chaotic and unpredictable process. However, armed with these ten principles and a growing knowledge of the realities and complexities of change, change agents can help ensure that the future of educational change will include the use of systems thinking, a reduction in the fragmentation of curriculum, and a more productive “dialogue between parents, bureaucrats, administrators, teachers, students, and government leaders” (Senge et al., 1994, p. 491-192).

Evans cautions that “the education community needs to… get off the ‘moral hook of promising more than it can deliver’ and ‘increase public understanding of why the problems in schooling… are and will be so vexing’” if significant change is going to be possible and sustainable. Still, as Fullan, Hill, and Crevola (2006) wrote, “nothing, and we mean nothing, is more critical to the future of the world than rapidly and constantly improving systems of public schooling that serve all students” (p. 100). Change agents who want to play a roll in creating such a system must take the risk of putting these ten principles into action and then working to improve their understanding of change processes and to improve upon this preliminary theory of school change.

Include Family and the Community

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

It’s been an amazing week! Monday was one of my most productive home office days ever. Tuesday I was at the Googleplex in Mountain View as one of the squad leaders in the first ever Google Teacher Academy. (I’m a certified Google Teacher now!) Tuesday I had my first presentation (to the administrators) in Redondo Beach. Wednesday I taught a Picasa, Audacity, and Movie Maker class (including Photo Story, too). And yesterday I did interviews with Steve Hargadon and Jennifer Wagner (no relation). Each of these days deserves a blog post – at least one, if not many… especially for Tuesday! But, these will have to wait. This weekend I am back to writing.

Picking up where I left off on my last post, here is a DRAFT version of part 9 (of 10). In essence, these are tips for successful organizational change – with a focus on implementing video games and simulations as constructivist learning environments, though these principles can probably be applied to any educational technology.

If you like, let me know what you think.

9. Include Family and the Community

Schools do not exist – and school change does not happen – in isolation. Change agents working to integrate educational technologies such as video games and simulations into a school, must consider not only the changes necessary in the school, but the effect that these changes will have on the community. There may even be changes necessary in the community for the project to be successful, or the project may need to allow changes to accommodate the needs of the community.

Senge et al. (2000) recognized this interconnectedness of the school and community when they suggested that “the single most powerful thing that a community can do is to provide children with high-quality preschool experiences from birth through age five” (p. 309). Conversely, they believed that faculty and students must make a commitment to their communities (p. 320), and they encouraged changes in the school that might influence positive changes at home (p. 421). Senge (1990) wrote about learning organizations. Senge et al (2000) applied this idea to communities, writing that “all communities can learn” (p. 461), a process in which schools can play an important part. They also offered strategies for a family-supported school (p. 535-536), including the need for collaborative leadership and for caring classrooms that improve children’s learning while enhancing teachers’ and parents’ efficacy – goals that must be kept in mind even when integrating new educational technologies, such as video games.

Evans (2001) pointed out that “the ever-escalating pace of change that brings unprecedented opportunities also invalidates traditional certainties, the continuity on which childrearing has always depended” (p. xviii). In turn he argued that schools

“need to rethink the ways they have been addressing the changing nature of students and parents. This will not be a matter of simply improving their traditional efforts… but of fundamentally reshaping the experience of membership in the school community and the relationship between the school and the family” (Evans, 2001, p. xiv-xv).

In keeping with his philosophy on organizational and educational change, Evans (2001) believed these childrearing dilemmas “will not yield to quick fixes” (p. 143). Even so, he proposed “practical steps educators can take to be helpful, not only to their academic mission but to the lives of parents and students directly” (p. 144), and he called for educators to “think more strategically about structuring the entire experience of membership in the school community” (p. 144). He asks “How can we imagine any broad, significant, enduring improvements in school outcomes without a corresponding improvement in the family as a ‘readier’ and ‘sustainer’ of students?” (p. 158). The answer, according to Evans, begins with “ perspective, not programs” (p. 159) and “requires a systematic effort to build and sustain consensus throughout the school community about two key facets of school life: purpose and conduct – core values and basic responsibilities” (p. 160). He stressed the role of parent education in this process (p. 161-162) and he believed in the importance of parent involvement in the life of the school, and in the lives and learning of their children (p. 184, 187). Ultimately, he found that

“the schools that encounter the fewest boundary-breaking problems and preserve the best relationships with their families are those that are the clearest about what they stand for (purpose) and what it means to be a part of their school community (conduct)… [because] true community cannont exist without these kinds of shared understandings” (p. 165).

Fullan also agreed that communities and schools can and should influence each other. He cites Senge’s (1990) concept of the “’divisible whole’, the realization that the earth is both small and of utmost significance to us” (Fullan, 1993, p. 98). He also firmly believed that “the closer the parent is to the education of the child, the greater the impact on child development and educational achievement” (Fullan, 2001b, p. 198). He shared from his experiences and his research that “teachers in moving schools [schools successfully implementing changes] saw parents as part of the solution” (p. 201). He also related that “researchers still find parent involvement as a crucial and alterable variable regardless of parents’ education and ethnic background” (p. 207), and suggested that “it is only when the majority of teachers are collaborating with the majority of parents that any sizable impact on student learning will occur” (p. 202). He even provided guidelines for parents, including:

1. Press governments to create the kind of teachers you want.
2. Leave nostalgia behind you.
3. Ask what you can do or your school as well as what your school can do for you.
4. Put praise before blame. (Fullan, 2001b, p. 214)

Only a learning community will be able to adapt to the changes necessary to for using video games and simulations as part of a constructivist learning environment in schools. Change agents need to be clear about the purpose behind the changes they propose, and they need to focus first on building the capacity of their communities to understand and adapt to the necessary changes. By following the advice of Senge, Evans, and Fullan, they can increase the likelihood their initiatives will be successful.

Sustain the Process

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

After a break of several hours for dinner and a silly DVD, I set back to work. Once again the challenge was cutting three pages of single spaced notes down to two pages of double spaced text. At the outset I think I did better with my paraphrasing, but I seem to have fallen back on full quotes just over the course of writing this section.

Well, it’s done for now, and I’m one step closer to a draft of the Breadth portion of my KAM. This brings me to 30 pages so far, the target for this portion, so I expect it to come in around 40, meaning I’ll have plenty of room to tighten this up by another 10 pages or so. Meanwhile, here is the (draft) section on sustainability… I’m sure I’ll get to the last two sections and the conclusion later in the week, perhaps while I’m traveling.

8. Sustain the Process

Any effort a change agent puts into facilitating organizational change or overcoming resistance to change is lost of the changes, or more importantly the change process, cannot be sustained. “Sustainability,” says Fullan (2005), “is the capacity of a system to engage in the complexities of continuous improvement consistent with deep values of human purpose” (p. ix). Senge, Evans, and Fullan each had a great deal to offer on the subject of continuous improvement.

Senge (1990) suggested the concepts of openness, localness, and balance were important to sustained change initiatives. Openness was a call for leaders to invite members of the organization to participate and reflect openly (p. 276-277) in the change making process, to let go of the illusion of their own certainty (p. 281), and to “make information more transparent” (Senge et al., 1999, p. 455). Similarly, localness referred to the need for leaders to achieve control without controlling (Senge, 1990, p. 297, 292) and to give up the illusion of being in control (p. 292), by allowing decisions to occur at the lowest level of the hierarchy as possible. Balance, then, referred to the need to allow members of an organization to make healthy choices even in stressful times (Senge et al., 1999, p. 48), to at the very least end the war between work and family (Senge, 1990, p. 360).

Within these constraints, Senge (1990) recommended creating time for learning within organizational structures (p. 302-305). He also recommended establishing a pilot group in the early stages of a change initiative (Senge et al., 1999, p. 39). This would be an excellent opportunity to follow Senge et al’s (1994) steps for breaking through organizational gridlock by identifying problem symptoms, mapping quick fixes, identifying undesirable impacts, identifying fundamental solutions, mapping addictive side effects of quick fixes, finding interconnections to fundamental loops, and identifying high leverage actions (p. 169-172). Senge et al. (1999) also offer these five strategies for sustained change:

  • Don’t push too hard for growth (p. 61).
  • “Looking ahead to identify the most significant challenges facing you, the sources and nature of that resistance, and its potential impact on your group” (p. 62).
  • Think about the future today (p. 62).
  • Conduct experiments (p. 63).
  • Reset the goals by examining your mental models (p. 63).
  • Trust yourself (p. 64).

For his part, Evans (1996) recommended that “planning should not be objective, linear, and long range – but rather pragmatic, adaptable, and medium range” (p. 7). He rejects whatnhe calls hyperrational planning in favor of “pragmatic, adaptable approaches that acknowledge the nonrational, unplannable aspects of an organizational life and the importance of being ready to respond to external change” (p. 14), and he recommends that leaders rely “on experience and intuitive judgment in decision making” (p. 15). Like Senge, Evans too recommends making time for learning; he points out that it is common in business to dedicate 5% of an employee’s time to professional development, which in education “would amount to nine or ten days per teacher per year” (Evans, 1996, p. 137).

Fullan (2005) acknowledged that “centrally driven reforms can be a necessary first start… but can never carry the day of sustainability” (p. 7). Several lessons of implementation that Fullan has shared are relevant as well. For instance, professional development is key, evaluation – early and often – is critical, and accountability systems are necessary (Fullan, 2001b, p. 73). Fullan (2005) also hit on the fact that “there is no chance that large-scale reform will happen, let alone stick, unless capacity building is a central component of the strategy for improvement” (p. 10-11). Capacity building “is not just workshops and professional development for all. It is the daily habit of working together, and you can’t learn this from a workshop or course” (p. 69). Teachers need personal contact for this to happen, “one-to-one and group opportunities to receive and give help and more simply to converse about the meaning of change” (Fullan, 2001b, p. 124). Perhaps the most important part of capacity building, what Fullan (2005) calls “the essence of Leadership and Sustainability [is] the deliberate fostering of developmental leaders who act locally and beyond, all the while producing such leadership in others” (p. 51). Fullan (2001b) also concluded that coherence-making “is the key to dealing with the nonlinear fragmented demands of overloaded reform agendas” (p. xi), and he recommended the simple strategy of “win small, win early, win often” (Fullan, 2001a, p. 33).

If change agents responsible for integrating video games and simulations into educational institutions are able to implement these strategies for sustainability, they will be better able to facilitate organizational change and overcome organizational resistance in the long run. The technologies will have a better chance of being used, becoming a part of structure of future schools, and making a difference in teaching and learning.

Remember Psychological Factors

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

The bad news is that I seem to be falling further back into bad habits (such as over-reliance on quoted material) the longer I spend writing. I seem to lose interest in processing the material any further actually.

The good news is that even after cutting my outline by more than half, now that I am writing it’s clear that I will be able to cut the content of the paper by almost half again and still fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

Below is section seven of ten on remembering psychological factors – or on staying firmly grounded in reality and creating psychological safety for the members of the organization. Enjoy… if you are so inclined. :)

Now, if I can write for just over two more hours I’ll actually meet my goal for the week. That might just translate into getting section eight up tonight… even if it is slightly reduced in quality.

7. Remember Psychological Factors

Evans (1996) warns that “when we are trying to understand people’s resistance to change, it is never just the logical we are dealing with but the psychological” (p. 26). Change agents who are able to heed this warning will be better able to cope with resistance to organizational change.

Many organizational change theorists, including Evans, cite Senge’s (1990) seven degrees of support for change initiatives (p. 219-220). The possible attitudes that an individual can have toward a change initiative Senge sorted into three categories, which can be described as committed, compliant, and noncompliant. Within the committed category, people can be truly committed, or merely enrolled, in which case they still want the change to happen. Within the compliant category, people can be genuinely compliant, formally compliant, or grudgingly compliant depending on the degree to which they see the benefits of the vision. Finally, in the noncompliant category, people can be noncompliant, or even simply apathetic about the change. Being able to understand where members of an organization fit on this scale, and how they might be moved, is important for a change agent to be successful.

In order to help people move toward greater commitment, change agents would do well to reject “easy optimism” (Evans, 1996, p. xiv); it only raises hopes and encourages later frustration when the inevitable challenges appear. Instead, Evans suggested that “a genuine respect for the sober realities of experience is crucial to success” (p. xv). He called for change agents to “counter naive assumptions… [because] reform, if it is to succeed, must accept the realities of human nature” (p. 51). He acknowledged that change agents must “straddle a fault line between pressure and support, change and continuity” (p. 58). But this balance is critical. Members of an organization must trust a change agent or leader. As Evans pointed out, “people assess the desirability of any change not just by its ‘what’ but also by its ‘who.’ A change proposed by someone we trust and respect is more credible than it would be if proposed by someone we distrust” (p. 83). Therefore, “mistrust is a primary issue that must be resolved first” (p. 126). In general, “change must be accompanied by a high degree of both psychological safety and professional safety. Without this, change is unlikely, no matter how intensely people are pressured to alter their practice” (p. 86).

This sort of psychological safety must permeate the culture of the organization, especially during professional development efforts. Evans (1996) explained that “to help teachers develop new competence, training must be coherent, personal, and continuous” (p. 63, emphasis added). Furthermore, “training must include continuing opportunities for teachers to consider, discuss, argue about, and work through changes in their assumptions. Without this, the technical changes they are exposed to during training are unlikely to make a deep, lasting impact” (p. 65). Even outside of training, Evans suggests that “personal contact that is oriented toward both task performance and emotional adjustment rather than just one or the other facilitates staff progress from loss to commitment” (p. 62). Such progress is essential to change efforts; as Evans says, “building of commitment among a critical mass of staff ranks among the most important goals change agents can set for themselves” (p. 69).
Later Evans (2001) summarized “five early steps… to help reduce resistance and build commitment among teachers” (p. 201-203):

  • Join the early resistance rather than try to override it.
  • Identify (rather than hide) weaknesses in the school’s own functioning.
  • Refrain from demonizing students or parents or exaggerating an ‘us versus them dichotomy.’
  • Present the situation as ‘pay me now or pay me later.’
  • Make a strong personal commitment.
  • Leave lots of time for questions.

Most importantly, Evans (1996) concluded that “of all the factors vital to improving schools, none is more essential – or vulnerable – than hope” (p. 290).

Fullan (2001b), too, felt that “real change then, whether desired or not, represents a serious personal and collective experience characterized by ambivalence and uncertainty” (p. 32). He went on to say that “the anxieties of uncertainty and the joys of mastery are central to the subjective meaning of educational change, and to success or failure thereof – facts that have not been recognized or appreciated in more attempts at reform” (p. 32). He, like others, notes that “restructuring… occurs time and time again, whereas reculturing (how teachers come to question and change their beliefs and habits) is what’s needed” (p. 34). In this respect, he considers innovation a multidimensional undertaking, including new materials (such as video games and simulations), new teaching approaches (such as constructivist pedagogy) and new beliefs (such as perceptions of the value of video games or constructivism) (p. 39, 43, 46).

Fullan (2001a) placed “a premium on understanding and insight rather than on mere action steps” (p. 46). Like Evans, Fullan believed that “collegiality, caring, and respect are paramount” (p. 57). He elaborated on this, writing that “a culture of caring… is vital for successful performance… in five dimensions; mutual trust, active empathy, access to help, lenience in judgement, and courage” (p. 82). He also knew that “leading in a culture of change means creating a culture (not just a structure) of change… [that produces] the capacity to seek, critically assess, and selectively incorporate new ideas and practices” (p. 44). However, the leader or change agent should also remember that they, too, are human, and be sure to “seek sources and situations that push the limits of their energy and engagement, coupled with rituals or periodic breaks that are energy recovering” (Fullan, 2005, p. 35).

Resistance to organizational change is inevitable, but change agents responsible for the integration of video games and simulations as constructivist learning environments will cope with the inevitable more productively if they remember psychological factors. They will be able to move members of their organizations toward enrollment and commitment by building trust and psychological safety. This is the only route to truly reculturing an organization.

References

Respect The Realities of Resistance

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Well, I’m still rolling. In addition to lunch and some chores today I’ve also completed another three page section. I don’t have more reflections to share at this point, but here is the next section…

Overcoming Organizational Resistance

A thorough review of Senge, Evans, and Fullan has revealed ten elements of school change that can be used to guide the process of integrating video games and simulations as educational technologies in a constructivist learning environment. Three of these elements relate to overcoming organizational resistance. These are to respect the realities of resistance, remember psychology, and sustain the process.

6. Respect The Realities of Resistance

Change agents who respect the realities of resistance will be more likely to successfully deal with and overcome challenges. Resistance is after all a healthy and necessary reaction to organizational change.

Resistance to change often occurs because the organization is exhibiting what Senge called a learning disability. Senge (1990) identified several learning disabilities, including “I am my position” (p. 18), “the enemy is out there” (p. 19), “the illusion of taking charge” (p. 20), “the fixation on events” instead of processes (p. 21), “the delusion of learning from experience… when our actions have consequences beyond our learning horizon” (p. 23), and “the myth of the management team,” most of which engage in “skilled incompetence” rather than raising difficult questions and dealing with complex issues (p. 24). Senge also identified defensive routines (p. 237) as a force of resistance. Later, Senge et al. (1999) ten challenges to implementing, sustaining, and rethinking change. The implementation stage may face the most challenges, including the lack of control over one’s time, inadequate support, lack of relevance, and a lack of clarity and consistency from management (p. 26). Sustaining change faces the challenges of fear, anxiety, negative assessment of progress, isolation, and arrogance (p. 26). Even efforts to redesign or rethink change initiatives are challenged by the difficulties of balancing autonomy against chaos, diffusing innovations, and maintaining organizational strategy and purpose (p. 26). Familiarity with these disabilities and challenges will aid change agents in discovering and addressing the root cause of resistance.

With his focus on the human side of school change, Evans (1996) pointed out that “any transition engenders mixed feelings” and that “understanding these feelings is vital to the successful implementation of change” (p. 26). He dealt with change as loss (p. 28) and acknowledged that change challenges competence (p. 32), creates confusion (p. 34), and causes conflict (p. 35). Most importantly, he urged change agents to respect the fact that “ambivalence – especially… resistance – needs to be seen as part of the solution, not just part of the problem; it demands the attention and respect of all who seek innovation” (p. 38).

Fullan focuses on other obstacles and problems, including the problem of transferability. The obstacles to change are many, and each of them is a potential source of resistance. Obstacles identified by Fullan (2003) included lack of trust in teachers, lack of risk taking culture, lack of time, lack of leadership, lack of coherence, and the general lack of confidence, knowledge, and training (p. 78-80). He also identified overload, fostered dependency, loss of what has been gained, and the threat of recent accountability measures as additional obstacles (p. 78-80). The increasing threat of innovation overload and the observation that “schools and school districts do not have the capacity to sort out which programs to pursue, or even the capacity to say no in the face of innovation overload” (Fullan, 2001b, p. 27), is another problem that Fullan addressed, arguing again that a focus on the moral purpose behind the change is essential. Regarding the problem of transferring innovations from one context to another, he stated simply, “ideas acquired with ease are discarded with ease” (Fullan, 1999, p. 64). the capacity for transferability in a social system is a function of the quality of the infrastructure” (p. 75), including the capacities for continuous learning, generating accountability data, promoting feedback, and stimulating innovation.

Fullan also noted that “successful organizations don’t go with only like-minded innovators; they deliberately build in differences” (Fullan, 2001a, p. 43). In keeping with Evans’ thinking, Fullan (2001a) recommended instead that “we need to respect resisters [because]… they sometimes have ideas that we might have missed, especially in situations of diversity or complexity or in the tackling of problems for which the answer is unknown” (p. 42). Also, “resisters are crucial when it comes to the politics of implementation… being alert to differences of opinion is absolutely vital” (p. 42).

Change agents who are attempting to overcome resistance to new educational technologies, such as video games and simulations, must therefore respect not only resistance, but also those who resist. They must endeavor to build the capacity necessary to properly deal with such resistance in addition to other obstacles, problems, and challenges that resist change, including organizational learning disabilities. This will require a deep understanding of organizational change on the part of the change agents, which must be pursued through continuous learning on their part, and which must be diffused throughout the organization through continuous sharing with others. Significant or fundamental change will not happen quickly and will not happen without resistance. Those who are frustrated and give up in the face of resistance, rather than respecting this reality, will not be successful.

References