Let's face it. We all want to be visited by the fairy godmother of education. Bidditi-bobbiti-Boo! Alas, and unfortunately, this isn't how change occurs.
As a facilitator, I feel my participants' pain. I want to provide the answer, transform the situation, magically provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to leave the pain behind - and they certainly want me to do it for them!
Which leads me to the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) that was introduced to me by my colleagues Susan Loucks-Horsley and Susan Mundry, and, later its sister framework, Innovation Configurations. Two of the foundational underlying assumptions of these models/frameworks are that change takes time and that change is a process, not an event. (See link at the end of this post.)
CBAM provides a framework for understanding the concerns that we have about the change we are undertaking, what those concerns say about where we are in the stages of change, and what interventions would be most useful to us at this point in time. Innovation Configurations describe and benchmark what we might see at the different stages of change that help us to ascertain if we are “on target” and “making progress” in making the change.
Even though in some logical part of our brain we know, incontrovertibly, that change is a process and takes time, we don’t want to operate that way. We want it now! But this approach can be dangerous (e.g., staff burnout, “this too will pass”, “yeah, well, we did this 7 years ago and it didn’t work then”, etc.), as well as expensive!
Here is a recent example. Working with a group of teachers, I learned that a curriculum (note: they were talking about a textbook) they had adopted (at great expense K-5) two years ago was “out.” Why? “It didn’t work.” Why? “Kids scores didn’t get better.” So, conclusion, the “curriculum” didn’t work. Really? I say that, because here is part of our follow up conversation:
Me: “To what degree was the ‘curriculum’ fully implemented?”
Teacher: “What do you mean?”
Me: “I mean was everyone using the textbook when they were teaching mathematics?”
Teacher: “Well, no. Some people used it more than others. It was hard to understand what we were supposed to do with some of the material. A lot of teachers were uncomfortable with it (the textbook).”
Me: "Of those that were using the text, were they approaching the content in the same way? Using the same instructional strategies to teach the content?"
Teacher: “Hum. I can speak for myself. I know I didn’t know what anyone else was doing. (Heads nodding in agreement.) Mostly everyone was doing their own thing.”
“Yes, and many teachers were complaining that it wasn’t working.” (More head nodding.)
So, did the “curriculum work”? We can’t really know, can we? Because we know that the level of implementation was inconsistent and lacked a shared vision for what should be happening in the classroom at various levels of implementation.
Being clear about the change you want to see at each major stage of the implementation, understanding the levels of concern, and providing just-in-time resources and support will enable change to occur.
For more information about CBAM and the Innovation Configurations, click on this link.