Monday, January 28, 2008

Research shows both sides of change

Professional Learning Communities at Work by Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker contains a section on the complexity of change. DuFour and Eaker offer fourteen research findings regarding the failure of school reform:
The change moved too fast—people were overwhelmed.
The change moved too slowly—people lost their enthusiasm.
The change lacked strong leadership from the principal.
The change relied too heavily on the leadership of a strong principal.
The change was too big and attached too much at once—people change incrementally, not holistically.
The change was too small—organizations need a more aggressive, comprehensive shake-up.
The change was top-down without buy-in from the faculty.
The change was bottom-up without the support of the central office or administration.
Gains were celebrated too soon, and the sense of urgency was lost.
Gains were not recognized and celebrated, and the initiative lost momentum.
Schools were unwilling to change—they were steadfastly committed to the status quo.
Schools embraced every change that came along and careened from fad to fad.
Leaders failed to develop a critical level of support before initiating change.
Leaders mistakenly insisted on overwhelming support as a prerequisite for initiating change; this stipulation ensured implementation would never occur.

These paradoxes speak for themselves about how important balance is within the change initiative. The leader needs to know the participants within the change—which research finding fits the participants of a particular educational community?

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