How to champion change in your district

If we get better at managing change, we can really start to see the impact on teaching and learning

Change is an ongoing exercise, and in schools and districts, every year is marked by shifts. Some of those are major, some minor, but there is little doubt that we are constantly dealing with change.

Surprisingly, it’s one area on which we don’t have a good grasp. In fact, when asked about having a change model in place, very few districts identify a specific approach but do identify long-term change as an ongoing challenge.

There are many ideas about effective change out there, but most of them come from the business world. I’ve used information from several business change leaders in my own work, and much of that is valuable and applicable; however, there are things unique to education that don’t always apply in business.

One change model that I think is extremely helpful and comes out of the context of education is the Concerns-based Adoption Model (CBAM). CBAM looks at different facets of change in an educational system and addresses three dimensions of change: Innovation Configurations, Stages of Concern, and Levels of Use. Each of these dimensions help leaders in an organization self-assess, gauge progress, and measure success.

Innovation Configuration (IC) mapping
To begin, organizational leaders must identify what they want to see happen when change has truly occurred. Like Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
As defined by the American Institute for Research (AIR), IC mapping “provides a clear picture of what constitutes high-quality implementation.” An IC map looks like a rubric but is structured a bit differently. It is intended to identify a continuum of practice focused on behaviors instead of being used to evaluate a product. The levels of practice identify the ideal state to emerging state, based on desired outcomes. In the case of implementing a new teaching practice or instructional tool, you would first identify the desired teaching outcome and then identify how a teacher would move from the beginning level to the highest level (you can have as many levels as needed). Here’s a generic example:

Desired Outcome 1: Teachers use tools to collaboratively plan authentic learning experiences for students in digital or virtual spaces, engaging with experts, teams and students.

Level 1: Actively collaborates with digital tools in varied local and global virtual spaces, including engaging with students, experts and teams or PLCs

Level 2: Collaborates using real-time collaboration tools in a dedicated virtual space to engage with experts and teams or PLCs

Level 3: Collaborates with others using email or other communication tools to engage with a team or PLC

Level 4: Does not yet collaborate virtually to engage with experts, teams or students

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