27 May 2006

Change Theory

I've been reading a lot about theories of change as they relate to education. We have a lot of changes staring at us in my district---some of our own initiation, like the new curriculum materials; others are imposed, such as getting every child to meet the standards. Regardless of the origins, my job is (in part) to support teachers in making transitions. Teachers are people, too, of course, and are often not all that excited about doing something different.

The Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) was developed in the 1970's as a way of identifying different "stages" individuals might be in during a change. The idea is that staff development must be focused at whatever stage is current---until a person's questions and needs about the change are addressed at that level, they won't move to the next aspect of the change. The stages are organized from more personal concerns at the beginning ("What will happen to me?") to a more global viewpoint.
  • Stage 0 Awareness---I'm not concerned about the new thing (e.g. books, teaching strategy, power structure in the building).
  • Stage 1: Informational---I'd like to know more about it.
  • Stage 2: Personal---How will using it affect me?
  • Stage 3: Management---I seem to be spending all of my time getting materials ready.
  • Stage 4: Consequence---How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact?
  • Stage 5: Collaboration---How can I relate what I am doing to what others are doing?
  • Stage 6: Refocusing---I have some ideas about something that would work even better.

As I think about moving toward using a standards-based curriculum, I have teachers across all of these stages. One of the ones I work with is annoyingly stuck in Stage 3. But now that I recognize this, I know I just need to sit down with him and spend some time talking about organizing things for this new way of teaching. He knows there are different expectations---he meets regularly with other teachers to talk about them---but nothing changes in the classroom. So, I'm planning (plotting?) now to get him to Stage 4 by the end of September.

The Southeast Educational Development Laboratory has lots of newly revised tools for using CBAM. I think that these could be very helpful as I continue to work with teachers, because until I can work with them on addressing their needs, the classroom needs of kids will also be wanting.

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