Implementing Change Through Learning: Concerns-Based Concepts, Tools, and Strategies for Guiding Change


Shirley M. Hord, James L. Roussin & Gene E. Hall

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    You have picked up an unusual and special book. Your reason(s) for selecting this book at this time probably is related to your being engaged with implementation of a particular program, innovation bundle, or a system change such as developing a professional learning community. Or perhaps you are mainly interested in seeing how research-verified constructs and tools can be used to facilitate change processes. An additional reason may be your knowing one or more of the authors. Whatever your reason, you are about to explore a book that is unusual (in regard to its content and utility) and special (in terms of the authors’ expertise and passion).

    When Shirley asked me to write a foreword, she observed that today the authors of many forewords add other ideas. “They don't just stick to providing an introduction to the book.” This is an approach different from what I am used to. So I will do a little of both by introducing a little of what you will be learning about and sticking in my two cents’ worth.

    You will learn a little about each author in their bios. The unusual organization of the book begins with two atypical pieces, the authors’ beliefs and a section that invites you to imagine how education could be. These will tell you more about how the authors view leadership and the significance of understanding the importance of learning as change processes unfold. These pieces also begin to make this book personal, which is an important component of having change processes become successful. Knowing the people and understanding their feelings is a critical component of change leadership.

    The main topic of this book is offering actions that can be used to facilitate and implement change. In each chapter, constructs and tools of the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM; Hall & Hord, 2011) provide the conceptual and diagnostic framework for understanding the dynamics within change processes. These same CBAM constructs and tools then become the diagnostic bases for determining what to do. Each chapter goes beyond theory by offering concrete examples of actions that can be used to facilitate implementation.

    For those of you who may not know about CBAM, it is a perspective for understanding change that was first proposed as a framework by Hall, Wallace, and Dossett in 1973. Rather than beginning with viewing change at the system level, the foundation of CBAM is developing understanding of how change is experienced by individual implementers (e.g., teachers, school leaders). Their feelings and perceptions (Stages of Concern), their gradual development of expertise (Levels of Use), and the extent to which they use the innovation with fidelity (Innovation Configurations) are the three primary constructs for assessing implementation. From this foundation the CBAM perspectives build to address the importance of leadership and system context. These three diagnostic dimensions are the evidence-based tools that are applied so well in this text.

    The PLC as Context

    An important foundational piece and place to begin is to provide a little of my understanding about what a professional learning community (PLC) is and is not. (I should note that I see a PLC as another innovation that has to be implemented; it doesn't just spontaneously arrive in any organization.) A related reason I have chosen to refer to PLCs at this point is, in part, to acknowledge Shirley's strong beliefs about what a PLC can be and also to use it as a metaphor of the approach the author team has taken in writing this book. I see a PLC as being a high-level configuration of organization culture. It is about the cultural norms, beliefs, and values that are shared; the types of information and ideas that are talked about; and the extent to which there is a shared vision and team approach to accomplishing the mission.

    In many ways the authors of this book have functioned as a PLC. They share beliefs in the critical importance of schools and that learning for kids and adults is the primary aim. Each author has assumed major responsibility for creation and development of selected tasks. Each author has provided critiques of each other's drafts, and the feedback has been accepted as intended to improve the product, not as a criticism of the person. In addition, throughout their careers each of the authors has lived in the trenches with various types of change efforts.

    In schools and school districts, a PLC exists when not only students but also the adults are engaged in learning all the time. I have spent time in many schools where the adults say something like, “Our PLCs meet at 8:30 on Fridays.” As soon as I hear this, I know that the configuration of PLC in that school does not match my ideal.

    Meeting at 8:30 on Fridays is just another required meeting. It is a structural piece only. What I want to hear is how throughout the week the adults exchange ideas, practices, and reflections related to what they are learning and what their students are learning. In my view the ideal PLC is what Peter Senge (1990) has called a learning organization. Ideas are exchanged, openly discussed, and disagreements are not taken personally. There is continual experimentation and mutual interest in what can be discovered, shared, and used again. If you could review the emails related to writing this book, you would see each of these indicators in action.

    From a change process perspective, there is another understanding about development of an ideal PLC that I see as being important. If a PLC is a particular configuration of organization culture, then developing this type of culture requires understanding how organization cultures are shaped. I am bothered when I hear superintendents, policymakers, and, yes, professors direct principals to “change the culture in your school.” I do not see that leaders have the power to unilaterally change culture.

    Instead, development of an organization culture is a social construction. It isn't just what a leader does; it is much more related to how the participants in the school give meaning to the actions of the leader and others. It is through the adults sharing their interpretations of meaning that organization culture is shaped. No matter what the intentions of the leader may be, others will construct their own version of what these mean. For example, the principal may have been well intentioned in calling a special staff meeting to talk about test scores. The principal's intention could have been to celebrate growth. But some of the staff may interpret the called meeting as an attempt to change what teachers do. “You know what happened last time. All we heard about was how terrible the lunch room looked.”

    The Author Team

    Construction and implementation of an ideal PLC is not accomplished easily or quickly. Ideas, tools, and activities to help in achieving such a worthwhile aim is what this book is about. For more than a decade Shirley has been crisscrossing the globe as the champion of the PLC movement. I mean this literally; she has been not only all around the United States, but as far away as China. She truly sees schools being much better for kids and the adults when there is a PLC-type organization culture. Her leadership of the author team for this book reflects this passion. She has been the leader, she has listened, and at the same time she has pushed. The authors have shared ideas, debated, and come to consensus, and each has learned.

    Jim's contributions to this book are equally grounded in the realities of what it takes to bring about change. He has been a longtime collaborator around CBAM work. He brings clear examples and innovative suggestions for how to use CBAM constructs and tools to facilitate implementation. As Shirley observed, “Jim is a voracious reader (and remembers what he has read) and is a deep and reflective thinker.”

    I may have gone on too long here about the importance of PLCs in general and how the author team has functioned, but you get to learn from the final product. Many good and useful ideas are introduced in this book, and they represent grounded ways to advance change processes.

    If I may have one more page of indulgence, I would like to share one of my favorite metaphors. I first proposed this metaphor in 1999 in a theme issue of the Journal of Classroom Interaction. We had done a major study about the implementation of the then innovative National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) standards. The study was done in the Hessen (Germany) School District of U.S. DoDEA. As you may know, the NCTM standards required a transformative paradigm shift on the part of teachers and administrators. To help illustrate the enormity of the expected change and to illustrate how CBAM constructs could be applied, I proposed the Implementation Bridge.

    The Implementation Bridge symbolizes much of what is addressed in this book. Change is a process, not an event, which means having to journey across the bridge. Given the size of most change efforts, implementation entails more than simply jumping across a crack in the sidewalk. If the change is transformative, such as the paradigm shift from being teaching centered to student learning centered, the journey will take even longer. In other words, Implementation Bridges come in different lengths. Getting across major chasms takes time and ongoing support. There is, of course, no need to conduct a summative evaluation until implementers are across the bridge.

    The Implementation Bridge

    Source: Adapted by James Roussin from Hall (1999).

    But formative evaluation is very important as people are approaching and moving across the bridge. In CBAM parlance we conduct implementation assessments. We assess Stages of Concern, Levels of Use, and Innovation Configurations at regular intervals. An Implementation Assessment Report is then presented to the change leaders. This report not only summarizes the current extent of implementation (i.e., how far across the bridge each implementer has progressed), it will also provide recommendations for what should be done next to facilitate getting implementers farther across the bridge.

    What you will discover in reading this book is that in each chapter each of the three CBAM tools is used to assess the current extent of implementation. The same information is then used to introduce concrete examples of actions that can be taken to further advance implementation. In other words, each chapter describes examples of how to assess where implementers currently are on the bridge and provides examples of interventions that could be used to facilitate their moving farther across the bridge.

    Shirley and Jim worked hard to bring to you what they have learned about implementing change. I think their ideas will be of interest and help no matter the size of your Implementation Bridge. What I particularly like about this book is the way each chapter illustrates how research-verified change constructs and tools can be used in practical ways to facilitate implementation. This really is a how-to manual.

    Preface: What You Will Find in This Book

    The purpose of this book is to guide educational change leaders through a concise, step-by-step process of change implementation over time in order to ensure success and, as a result, build professional capacity through that effort. The bottom line is that implementation is a necessity—an imperative— for any successful change, and it has more often than not been overlooked in most school change efforts.

    There is a great deal we already know about change. So this book is not about new theories or recent research. It identifies what we believe are the available, tested, research-based best practices in bringing forth any endeavor of change toward an end that is results oriented and guided by human interaction and vision. While there is a lot we already know, much of that knowledge is not applied in many, if not most, change initiatives.

    Today, more than ever, we are urgently in need of success in our change projects. As we enter the 21st century, we are on the cusp of significant educational reform opportunities that will radically change how we do business in education. What does this mean for educators? While change has been a continuous topic of conversation for most professional educators for many decades, this century is going to require teachers and administrators to totally rethink how education is delivered to children. This is going to require significant changes across all sectors of public education.

    Our current education system has been built around learning conducted mostly in classrooms, from textbooks, and from individual teachers. The future will look much different, as noted at the U.S. Department of Education website.

    The challenge for our education system is to leverage technology to create relevant learning experiences that mirror students’ daily lives and the reality of their futures. We live in a highly mobile, globally connected society in which young Americans will have more jobs and more careers in their lifetimes than their parents did. Learning can no longer be confined to the years we spend in school or the hours we spend in the classroom: It must be life-long, life-wide, and available on demand (Bransford et al., 2006; U.S. Department of Education, 2010).

    All of this change is going to require that educational leaders at every level become highly proficient and savvy as change leaders!

    What should you, the reader, expect to find in this book?

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 1 shares the philosophies and approaches that we have used throughout decades of work in improving schools through change and learning efforts. We share our beliefs about change so that openness, candor, and transparency are employed. And, importantly, Chapter 1 contains an expression of the value of the continuous exploration of and learning about change process that we have engaged in for our professional lives. How we view the importance of adult learning in these efforts is no secret and will become abundantly clear.

    CBAM Components

    Four chapters follow, and these are devoted to teaching about the components of the CBAM. Chapter 2 highlights strategies that change leaders use to reach success. Chapter 3 provides the vision of the change. Chapter 4 enables us to understand individuals. And Chapter 5 describes the behaviors of implementers.

    This volume of well-developed, user-friendly, and clearly articulated Learning Maps has been created to provide guidance to change leaders in their learning about how to achieve successful change. Each Learning Map requires 1- to 2-hour time slots, with all materials supplied. This book has been created so pages can be reproduced by the individual who is leading or assisting in the change journey. Each Learning Map has a clearly articulated result or outcome of the event, in addition to clearly numbered steps to guide the learning group in the activity. These learning paths could be used by individuals for independent self-directed learning, but we know that learning done in a social context results in richer, deeper understanding and meaning. Thus, we recommend that at least several change leaders and their participants come to learn, together.

    The focus of each learning map is to provide clear instructions as well as application to the strategies (Chapter 2) and the concepts and their tools (Chapters 35) in guiding implementation. These tools are especially helpful in addressing the needs of implementers who are experiencing widely divergent progress in their change efforts.

    In an effort to make a highly complex topic a trifle easier to understand, and as an organizing framework, we use the story of a fictitious school district and its staff as we employ the six strategies in the district's change projects. The change story provides the district context (size, socioeconomic status, student demographics, significant factors of staff, central office organization, school board posture, etc.) of EveryWhere District. The change story captures the challenges any change leader has to face in bringing about successful change. The story also foreshadows the rationale for successful change by using the appropriate strategies, concepts, and tools of CBAM to assist in the desired change in EveryWhere District.

    Chapter 2: Six Strategies
    Moving From Adoption to Full Implementation

    Chapter 2 focuses on the following six strategies that are part of the CBAM suite of concepts, tools, and measures for ensuring that change results in successful implementation. These actions (that are the responsibility of change leaders or facilitators) can serve as the initial guide and benchmarks for the journey of the change process in any organization.

    • Creating a shared vision of the change
    • Planning and identifying resources necessary for the change
    • Investing in professional development/professional learning
    • Checking or assessing progress
    • Providing assistance
    • Creating a context conducive to change

    The research on staff development (Joyce & Showers, 2002) parallels school change research (Hall & Hord, 2011) in terms of how implementers learn what the new practice is and how to use it. The results of staff development research instruct us that investing in large-group learning sessions (“investing in professional development”) must be followed by individual and small-group interactions (“checking or assessing progress” and “providing assistance”) to clarify, correct, and enable implementers to continuously refine their learning. This assessing and assisting is the basis for what coaches and change leaders do in supporting educators to change, and both school change and staff development research are very clear about the imperative of such support for individuals in their learning and change efforts. The Learning Maps in Chapter 2 teach what the strategies are and how to use them productively.

    Chapter 3: Innovation Configurations
    Creating a Vision of the Change

    However, the six strategies are not applied in isolation of understanding what the change precisely is and where the implementers are in terms of their reactions and their behaviors related to the change. CBAM provides significant tools that inform us about the implementing individual and how she or he constructs and conducts the strategic work of the change effort. The first of these tools for consideration is Innovation Configurations. The creation of a map represents both the ideal and the various ways that imple-menters will implement an innovation (as they are learning how to use it). It serves as an excellent tool for establishing expectations for what the user will do, but also the map identifies where the implementer is currently operating along the continuum of the variations. This identification is the basis for creating support and assistance to help the implementer learn more about using the innovation and moving ultimately to ideal use, the goal for the change effort. The Learning Maps in Chapter 3 help us guide change facilitators in doing this.

    Chapter 4: Stages of Concern
    Understanding Individuals

    Through many years of research and its application in schools where change and improvement is the goal, we know all too well that individuals, for a variety of reasons, become involved in change in a wide variety of ways. Understanding where the individual is coming from, and his or her attitudes and reactions to change, is essential to formulating the necessary support to encourage progress in learning about the change and in using it productively. Working sensitively with individuals, identifying and understanding their concerns, and using that information positively are the outcomes of this chapter's Learning Maps.

    Chapter 5: Levels of Use
    Using Innovations

    While Stages of Concern (SoC) deal with the affective side of change, Levels of Use (LoU) describe profiles of behaviors exhibited by implementers. This is a second concept and tool for understanding the individual in the process of change. Many change leaders prefer, if there are resources for using only one tool that focuses on the individual, to employ LoU, for it represents observable activities, therefore making it more readily understandable for some change leaders. Like the other Learning Maps, the ones in Chapter 5 focus on enabling the change leader to understand more precisely how the implementer is interacting with the innovation. Appropriate support based on this understanding adds significantly to the probability that the change effort will be successful.

    EveryWhere's Journey Comes to an End, or Does It?

    The story of EveryWhere School District, which has been used to introduce, explain, and suggest applications of the CBAM concepts, strategies, tools, and techniques, draws the curtains on this 3-year district change drama. The story has illustrated how a district change project has been initiated with “lessons” about the change process and how its ideas, theories, and tools for practitioners can be learned, developed, and applied.

    We strongly urge participants using the Learning Maps to create a notebook in which to keep these lessons and their related ideas and reflections, to reserve a space for journaling. In this way, new ideas, fresh insights, and challenging commentaries may find a home for future perusal.

    Finally, we have created the following chart to indicate the topic and outcome of each of the lessons that we are naming Learning Maps, to provide the learners who are using this book with an easy reference to the focus of each map.

    Learning Map Reference Chart
    Learning MapTopicOutcome
    Learning Map 2.1Explaining Six Research-Based Strategies for ChangeLearners identify the six research-based strategies for change and explain why they are required.
    Learning Map 2.2Planning Strategies for a Change EffortLearners create initial plans for a change effort that is focused on the strategies, and they explain how these will be used to cross the implementation bridge.
    Learning Map 2.3Reviewing the Literature on Structural and Relational Conditions for ChangeLearners briefly describe a selected set of contextual factors, accessed from the literature, that are valued for successfully introducing changes in organizations (schools and districts).
    Learning Map 2.4Assessing Change ReadinessLearners describe five change readiness dimensions for determining staff willingness and capacity to participate in implementing a change.
    Learning Map 3.1Articulating the Need for Precision About the ChangeLearners explain the imperative for creating a mental image—a written picture—of the change when it is in operation.
    Learning Map 3.2Identifying Structures of an Innovation Configuration MapLearners identify and define the two major structures of an Innovation Configuration (IC) map.
    Learning Map 3.3Creating an IC Map With Guided PracticeLearners produce an IC map in a collaborative, guided-practice setting.
    Learning Map 3.4Developing an IC Map IndependentlyLearners produce an IC map of their change, using the skills developed from the previous sessions and working with a small collaborative group.
    Learning Map 3.5Reviewing and Revising the MapParticipants produce a reviewed and revised edition of their developing IC map.
    Learning Map 3.6Field-Testing and Revising the MapLearners produce a field-tested and revised map.
    Learning Map 3.7Sharing the Map With ImplementersLearners create a plan for sharing the IC map with implementers.
    Learning Map 3.8Using an IC Map for Developing an Implementation PlanLearners identify how the IC map can be used to initiate planning for implementing the change.
    Learning Map 4.1Considering the Compelling Case for ConcernsLearners explain the concept of Stages of Concern (SoC) and use an individual's commentary to identify his or her concerns.
    Learning Map 4.2Generating Responses to ConcernsLearners suggest assistance and support appropriate to each individual's SoC.
    Learning Map 4.3Collecting Concerns DataLearners describe two methods for collecting SoC data and match the appropriate method to a specific purpose; learners identify a third data collection method and its purpose.
    Learning Map 5.1Articulating Behaviors Associated With the Use of InnovationsLearners describe eight specific behaviors associated with an individual's learning to use innovations.
    Learning Map 5.2Identifying the Level of Use of IndividualsLearners identify an individual's Level of Use (LoU) and suggest appropriate responses to the identified LoU.
    Learning Map 5.3Collecting Levels-of-Use DataLearners conduct informal LoU interviews to collect data about implementers and identify the individual's LoU.

    Our profound thanks to Gene for the Foreword and Finale, and for his wise leadership in the field of significant school change. For the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, he has been the primary architect and stalwart caretaker of this body of work that has supported the change and improvement efforts of so many around the globe for many years. Further, he was an early model of the collaborative leader, inviting the voices of the research staff and school personnel to the conversation, planning, and decision making. In this way he has promoted leadership in others and the increasing professionalism of all.

    Our sincere thanks go to professional development specialists and supporters of adult learning Dr. Edward Tobia and Terry Morganti-Fisher for bravely reviewing our first proposal to provide feedback on our initial thinking.

    To Dr. William A. (Bill) Sommers, thoughtful reader and never-ending learner, you have our everlasting thanks for reading the initial complete draft to tell us where we were okay and where we faltered.

    And to principals Dr. Nancy Flynn, of Ramsey Junior High School, and Barbara Evangelist, of St. Paul Music Academy (both of St. Paul Public Schools), who have demonstrated a keener understanding for what it means to be a collegial facilitator in guiding successful change across the school—and from whom we have learned—we give our warm thanks.

    For the energetic, enthusiastic, and constructively critical reviewers of the production draft, please accept our boundless thanks for your careful read, thoughtful commentaries, and wise reflections that have immeasurably contributed to this manuscript.

    It is impossible not to express abundant gratitude for the guidance of Dan Alpert, premier acquisitions editor for Corwin, for his belief in the process and product of this project. His critique and support of its development has been endlessly valued.

    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    Kenneth Arndt

    Professor of Educational Leadership, Argosy University

    Schaumburg, IL

    Sally Bennett

    Superintendent, Armorel School District

    Armorel, AR

    Gary Bloom

    Superintendent, Santa Cruz City Schools

    Soquel, CA

    Dalane E. Bouillion

    Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Spring Independent School District

    Houston, TX

    Janice Bradley

    Mathematics Leadership Coordinator, New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM

    Kate A. Foley

    Associate Superintendent, Naperville Community School District 203

    Naperville, IL

    Delores Lindsey

    Professor of Education and Education Consultant, California State University, San Marcos

    Escondido, CA

    Terry Morganti-Fisher

    Educational Consultant, Learning Forward and QLD Learning

    Austin, TX

    Jennifer Ramamoorthi

    Teacher, Community Consolidated School District 21

    Wheeling, IL

    Judith Rogers

    K–5 Mathematics Specialist, Tucson Unified School District

    Tucson, AZ

    Adrienne Tedesco

    Instructional Coach, Gwinnett County Public Schools

    Suwanee, GA

    Claudia Thompson

    Academic Officer/Learning and Teaching, Peninsula School District

    Gig Harbor, WA

    Edward F. Tobia

    Project Director, SEDL

    Austin, TX

    About the Author

    Shirley M. Hord PhD, is the scholar laureate of Learning Forward (previously the National Staff Development Council), following her retirement as Scholar Emerita at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory in Austin, Texas. There she directed the Strategies for Increasing Student Success Program. She continues to design and coordinate professional development activities related to educational change and improvement, school leadership, and the creation of professional learning communities.

    James L. Roussin MALS, has been committed to improving teaching and learning in schools across the United States and abroad throughout his professional career. He has worked as a language arts teacher; gifted coordinator; ESL coordinator; curriculum director; executive director of teaching, learning, and school improvement; adjunct professor; and educational consultant.

    Gene E. Hall PhD, currently is professor of urban leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He began his academic career at the national R&D Center for Teacher Education at The University of Texas at Austin. This is where he, Shirley Hord, and other colleagues developed the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, which has been the career-long focus of his scholarship, teaching, and coaching of leaders.

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