Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com


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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com

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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals, www.nationalforum.com

  1. 1. Leadership for Effective Change: Creating Intentionality Using Staff Development S. Michael Putman Ball State University ABSTRACT The tenets set forth within the No Child Left Behind legislation have created a focus on teacher practices and student achievement. Professional development has been shown to be an effective vehicle to potentially impact both of these variables; however, effective leadership is needed to ensure this potential is maximized. The Intentional Teaching Model (INTENT) was created to provide a step-by-step method school leaders could use to conduct professional development activities aimed at promoting change in the instructional practices of teachers. This article outlines the phases of the model with attention directed towards several factors that are particularly salient to success. Key Words: professional development, reflective practice, teacher beliefs, leadership Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, principals and administrators have been required to devote significant attention and resources towards methods to improve student outcomes (Andrews & Rothman, 2002). Theoretically, the sought after improvements in achievement can be accomplished in a variety of ways; however, it has been written that many of the variables necessary for success are out of the control of school leadership. Accordingly, attention needs to be directed towards controllable factors within the school context, such as professional development (Reeves, 2006). The inherent difficulty in this, however, is that professional development is a complex process that is often complicated and non-linear. Allington (2002) reinforces this fact by writing, “There can be few less organized aspects of education than professional development” (p. 112). The impact of school leadership and organizational change on professional development has been studied extensively; yet school leaders currently lack a step-by-step method for formulating professional development activities to address the challenges presented by legislation, students, and the lack of opportunities to coordinate activities (Dearman & Alber, 2005). As a result, it is critical to look at the role of an educational change agent within the process of professional development aimed at transforming teaching practices (Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gallagher, 2007). 21
  2. 2. Supporting Teachers with INTENT Change is difficult, especially when it is dictated by external forces, such as legislation. This is especially true for teachers who are often forced to engage in professional development activities targeted towards mandated changes in practices (see Guskey, 2002). This notion underscores the necessity of effective leadership within the school context to guide and support teachers in their efforts to alter practices while simultaneously maintaining a positive climate focused upon student growth. Incorporating elements associated with stage-matched interventions (Prochaska & Norcross, 2001), as well as theories of organizational change (Senge, 1990), the Intentional Teaching Model (INTENT) was created to provide school leaders with a research-based method for attaining these objectives. INTENT is based upon the concept of intentionality, which is characterized by the display of contextually specific behaviors to reach personally relevant short and long-term goals. Specific to a school setting, intentionality would be demonstrated by deliberate changes in teaching practices to reach a short-term goal, i.e. improving students’ fluency rates, and subsequent long-term objective, such as improving reading achievement scores by 3%. The Change Agent Leadership is a vital component within successful change and growth. INTENT acknowledges and adheres to this principle as it is implemented under the guidance of an individual, such as a building administrator or respected teacher, or small team of individuals from within the school. As the instructional leader(s), the change agent is vital to maintaining the ongoing practices of reflection and modeling, as well as mediating attempts by teachers to try new practices within the context of professional development activities. The change agent must be a multi-tasker who can simultaneously adopt the role of coach, cheerleader, or mentor. He/she must also be an effective communicator who is able to engage faculty in candid conversations to ensure that they are taking an active role in professional development activities. These conversations facilitate the establishment of realistic goals and develop what Reeves (2006) referred to as internal capacity, which is one factor necessary for successful school growth. Additionally, the change agent must play an active role in helping individuals who are reluctant to participate in the change process because they did not see the change as more beneficial than maintaining current practices. There is no set formula for doing this, which is why the change agent must have an established and open relationship with participants. The change agent must know the teachers well enough to best identify the methods that will help them begin to think about change. This could include actions such as providing relevant literature, scheduling opportunities for modeling by peers or experts, or facilitating the development of small, short-term goals. The change agent must realize that mandating compliance will most likely cause resistance and decrease the likelihood that sought after changes will occur. Not all teachers need to engage the planned changes initially, but participation for all is an important goal to help maintain morale and to promote the effort as collaborative. As a result, the change agent must remind some teachers of the school goals more often than others. Weak leadership on the part of the change agent and failure to challenge teachers to grow beyond their comfort zone represent primary causes in undermining the creation of intentionality in teachers. 22
  3. 3. The Intentional Teaching Model Prior research has documented the vital leadership role of the change agent within successful applications of INTENT in schools (see Cassady, Putman, Smith, & Jameson, 2006; Putman, Cassady, & Smith, 2009). It has also demonstrated a number of key factors directly linked to the capacity of the change agent to affect teacher behavior within professional development activities. Following a brief description of the phases of INTENT, these factors will be addressed with particular attention to ongoing leadership efforts that maximize the likelihood that the short and long-term goals and outcomes formulated by schools can be achieved. Phase 1: Individual theory articulation. Beliefs drive practices; thus, efforts to change behavior must begin with examinations of the theoretical orientations and beliefs of those who will be directly affected by change efforts (Duffy, 2005; Turbill, 2002). For this reason, the first phase of INTENT is focused upon information gathering and accessing teachers’ beliefs about effective instruction through the administration of surveys or inventories of beliefs. The information gathered by the change agent within this initial phase is utilized to establish a starting point for the professional development activities and to assist teachers in individually and collectively reflecting about how their beliefs influence their thoughts and actions. Concurrently, this also helps the change agent to guide teachers in considering their current instructional beliefs in relation to the anticipated outcomes. Through these activities and the efforts of the change agent, participants become mentally ready to move to phase 2 of INTENT. Phase 2: Preparation. Once the underlying belief structures of the participants have been determined through the efforts of the change agent in phase 1, phase 2 of INTENT is marked by active efforts of the change agent to help teachers to identify and establish goals that will guide later efforts and engage them in the sought after changes in instructional practices. This is facilitated through the establishment of committees and teams that develop a common purpose to guide practices in an effort to achieve the intended outcome, something Senge (1990) referred to as a shared vision. In creating the shared vision, the change agent must adopt various roles based upon the readiness for change exhibited by teachers. For example, when working with individuals who are not yet ready or willing to change practices, the change agent should seek to aid teachers in recognizing the need for change in a specific area and how the end result (goal) of this planned change will impact their environment. Teachers must be convinced of the importance of developing their teaching repertoire to effectively plan and implement instruction that seeks to develop students’ skills and knowledge as described by curricular goals or student needs. The key to doing this is to provide information as to why change is necessary and how the change benefits their students before telling them they must change. On the other hand, the change agent should engage teachers who have already noted the need to change practices in small and large group discussions focused upon jointly planning specific activities and strategies directed towards the goals established by the group. Once the goals and subsequent strategies are selected, the change agent finalizes plans with the committed teachers and prepares them for action. Phase 3: Active change. Phase 3 marks an action phase where teachers are making deliberate attempts to modify instructional practices based on the goals and plans established in phase 2. It encompasses three major sub-steps that are iterative in nature: action, evaluation of 23
  4. 4. success, and reformulation of goals. Change agents must demonstrate flexibility in phase 3 as they will likely need to provide encouragement or expert advice depending on the outcomes of teachers’ attempts to implement the principles agreed upon in phase 2 (Levesque, et al., 2001). The change agent must also continually support faculty in ongoing discussions as this phase progresses in a cyclical fashion as individuals and groups come successively closer to the stated goal(s) within iterations of the action-evaluation-reformulation cycle. Even during cycles where the attempted implementations fall short of intended outcomes, the change agent must guide the process of evaluating and reformulating actions on a regular basis to help the teaching team stay on target. Within phase 3, examinations of data should occur under the guidance of the change agent to ensure successful movement within the three sub-steps. The teachers involved in the professional development must be active participants in this process to ensure any modified goals match targeted outcomes and preserve faculty support. Killon (2002) recommended that both student achievement and teacher behavior should be considered as part of this process as both are relevant to continued progress toward the intended outcomes. Student data is likely to be readily accessible; however, the change agent may need to administer brief surveys and/or informal observations to note teacher’s individual needs within the process. Success should be utilized as a tool to help build confidence in participating teachers and could help overcome the reluctance of the teachers who elected not to initially engage in the proposed activities. Phase 4: Sustainability. Phase 4 is marked by the consistent demonstration of behaviors aligned with the goals established in prior phases of the professional development process. Intentional teachers feel confident and are able to consistently use the techniques and strategies that were observed to be effective and maintain the positive change. The change agent should engage the faculty in periodic revisits to the phases of the intentional teaching model when problems are faced; to identify an addition or modification to the current practice will likely lead to additional success. Overall, the momentum that began with successes in phase 3 is maintained and linked to improved student outcomes throughout the period of sustainability. Essential Factors Within the Creation of Intentionality INTENT includes a variety of components from the literature on effective organizational leadership and professional development, yet there are several factors that would be considered essential variables that are directly associated with the change agent. Change agents who demonstrated a thoughtful consideration and significant focus on these repeatedly observed positive results. These change agents helped to develop intentional teachers who recognized the need for the implementation of effective instructional strategies based upon student needs and readiness levels (see Cassady, et al., 2006). The result was improved student achievement that was sustained over a three-year period (Putman, et al., 2009). On the other hand, schools whose leadership devoted limited attention to these critical areas did not see the anticipated results. Teachers in these schools remained in phase 2 and continued to use instructional strategies marked by a determination that a single practice, such as using the adopted textbook, served the greatest number of students and, therefore, marked the most appropriate instructional option (Putman et al.). Personal beliefs of teachers. Research has consistently demonstrated the impact of teachers’ personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning on their actual classroom teaching 24
  5. 5. practices (DeFord, 1985; Guskey, 2002). Turbill (2002) reinforced this as she concluded before teachers can integrate new knowledge with their existing beliefs, they need to examine and specifically articulate their beliefs. Professional development that begins with the change agent focusing on this form of reflection within attempts to change practices has been shown to help teachers in “reconstructing their existing knowledge and beliefs” (Spillane, 2000, p. 17). INTENT incorporates this important information within phase 1 as a baseline for beliefs is established prior to full-scale implementation of the remaining phases of the model. Prior research on INTENT accessed teachers’ theoretical orientations toward reading (see DeFord, 1985) and basic beliefs about reading instruction (see Cassady & Smith, 2005) to gain initial information regarding teachers’ stance on reading instruction. While explicit theory articulation is an important component within reflective professional development, it is also necessary for school leaders and/or the change agent to conduct observations of practice to accurately assess potential shortcomings associated with self- report data obtained through surveys. By utilizing observations conducted by the change agent, teachers’ preferred methodologies are identified and correlated with belief statements to better align suggestions to the teaching staff. Ultimately, this adds relevancy to the reflections facilitated by the change agent that occur as part of the process and to the professional knowledge that is sought as it further relates the information to the elements a teacher faces daily, an important component in successful growth (Anders, Hoffman, & Duffy, 2000; Elliott & Churchman-Langlois, 2002). Teacher implementation. As teachers attempt to implement the principles or concepts addressed by professional learning into practice, they need opportunities to apply new strategies in an environment that is anxiety free (Cambourne, 1995). To ensure minimization of anxiety, the change agent should focus initial efforts on small goals to enhance confidence and increase the likelihood that teachers will continue to change their practices as student success is noted. After these initial attempts using techniques or instructional methods in the classroom are made, the change agent must lead the faculty in conversations and analyses that examine the successes and disappointments associated with the efforts. These conversations will likely result in modifications to the goals and the expected outcomes. Effective leadership from the change agent will enhance the outcomes associated with iterative process of evaluating and reformulating goals addressed in phase 3 and help the teaching team stay on target. These constant conversations also help with future buy-in by those reluctant to change as they are able to see and learn of team accomplishments in rapid succession. Once again, the influence of the change agent is noted as necessary to ensure ongoing support and follow-up to maintain momentum towards the long-term plan (Learning First Alliance, 2000). Spillane (2000) lends credence to the importance of selecting who should fill the role of the change agent as he noted that sometimes a lead teacher is uniquely situated to fulfill these functions as they are imbedded within the experience and can provide encouragement within the context of practice. Support can additionally be supplied in the form of continued modeling and coaching for teachers in contexts of instruction (Cambourne, 1995). Collaboration. The context created by INTENT also represents opportunities for collaborative work among teachers. Within these collaborative contexts, participants, under the guidance of the change agent, engage in socially constructed knowledge formation as they attempt “to make sense of phenomena under consideration” (Hoban & Erickson, 2004, p. 304). 25
  6. 6. Short and long-term support and growth are enhanced through these discussions as the change agent helps create a community of learners (Barth, 1990). Two strategies led by the change agent are especially effective at creating these collaborative contexts and affecting positive change. The first approach involves the change agent facilitating large-group meetings that include breakout sessions for smaller teams. In this model, teachers and school leaders, including the change agent, gather and discuss the organizational issues of program implementation. The larger group then divides into small groups with the change agent facilitating discussions among the groups to address the small groups’ specific needs and concerns. These conversations are especially useful in identifying potential organizational difficulties and alleviated scheduling conflicts for small group members to meet. The second approach that has proven successful within the implementation of INTENT involved a coaching or mentoring model. Within the model, the change agent works with specific small groups over the course of time established for the professional development activities. Participants meet and are encouraged to share and reflect upon their practices. As relationships are established and comfort with practices increases, the change agent creates opportunities for small group members to begin observing each other teaching with the change agent present. Once all team members are observed, the team reconvenes to provide feedback to each other based upon observations. Under the change agent’s guidance, the group then identifies strategies and methods for maintaining momentum towards the goals established by the group. As ongoing meetings occur, the relationships built enable conversations necessary to promote the sought after behavioral change in teachers. Conclusion In 1998, Holland wrote, “change depends on a broad belief that doing something differently will make it better” (p. 26). To truly make educators capable of the sweeping changes sought after by NCLB and to ensure the amount of time and effort required to do this is fruitful, we need school leaders who intentionally act as agents of change and who realize the necessity of inviting teachers to take an active role in changing themselves. Leaders need to recognize and use the principles associated with effective leadership and implement professional development programs that help teacher quality improve, and, more importantly, to help children learn. Research conducted on INTENT not only provides a step-by-step method for professional development; it also reinforces that a successful change agent is instrumental in supporting and nurturing teacher growth. School leaders need only to look towards the four phases of INTENT and to adhere to the critical variables addressed above to help create teachers who are committed to constant instructional improvements and who conscientiously use practices that are most likely to achieve sought after student outcomes. References Allington, R. (2002). What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research-based programs. New York, NY: Longman. Anders, P. L., Hoffman, J. V., & Duffy, G. G. (2000). Teaching teachers to teach reading: Paradigm shifts, persistent problems, and challenges. In M. L. Kamil, P. B. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson, & R. Barr (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, Vol. III, (pp. 721-744). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 26
  7. 7. Andrews, K., & Rothman, M. (2002). Cultivating innovation: How a charter/district network is turning professional development into professional practice. Phi Delta Kappan, 83(7), 506-512. Barth, R. (1990). Improving schools from within. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Cambourne, B. (1995). Toward an educationally relevant theory of literacy learning: Twenty years of inquiry. The Reading Teacher, 49(3), 182-190. Cassady, J. C., Putman, S. M., Smith, L. L., & Jameson, M. M. (2006, November). Promoting reading skills with a coordinated, community-based after-school program. Paper presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference, Los Angeles, CA. Cassady, J. C., & Smith, L. L. (2005). The impact of a structured integrated learning system on first-grade students’ reading gains. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 21, 361-376. Dearman, C. C., & Alber, S. R. (2005). The changing face of education: Teachers cope with challenges through collaboration and reflective study. The Reading Teacher, 58(7), 634- 640. DeFord, D. (1985). Validating the construct of theoretical orientation in reading instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 20, 336–367. Duffy, G.G. (2005). Developing metacognitive teachers: Visioning and the expert’s changing role in teacher education and professional development. In S.E. Israel, C.C. Block, K.L. Bauserman, & K. Kinnucan-Welsch (Eds.), Metacognition in literacy learning (pp.299- 314). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Elliott, C. B., & Churchman-Langlois, J. (2002). Successful methods travel fast. Journal of Staff Development, 23(2), 40-43. Guskey, T.R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and practice, 8, 381-391. Hoban, G. F., & Erickson, G. (2004). Dimensions of learning for long-term professional development: Comparing approaches from education, business, and medical contexts. Journal of In-Service Education, 30(2), 301-324. Holland, H. (1998). Making change: Three educators join the battle for better schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Killon, J. (2002). Assessing impact: Evaluating staff development. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council. Learning First Alliance. (2000). Every child reading: A professional development guide. Baltimore, MD: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from http://www.learningfirst.org/publications/reading/ Levesque, D. A., Prochaska, J. M., Prochaska, J. O., Dewart, S. R., Hamby, L. S., & Weeks, W. B. (2001). Organizational stages and processes of change for continuous quality improvement in health care. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 53(3), 139-153. Penuel, W. R., Fishman, B. J., Yamaguchi, R., & Gallagher, L. P. (2007). What makes professional development effective? Strategies that foster curriculum implementation. American Educational Research Journal, 44, 921–958. Prochaska, J. O, & Norcross, J. C. (2001). Stages of change. Psychotherapy, 38, 443-448. Putman, S. M., Cassady, J. C., & Smith, L. L. (2009). Promoting change through professional development: The place of teacher intentionality in reading instruction. Literacy Research and Instruction, 48, 207-220. 27
  8. 8. Reeves, D. (2006). Leadership leverage. Educational Leadership, 64(2), 86-87. Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of a learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday. Spillane, J. P. (2000). District leader’s perceptions of teacher learning (CPRE Occasional Paper Series OP-05). Philadelphia, PA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education. Retrieved from http://www.cpre.org/Publications/op-05.pdf Turbill, J. (2002). The role of a facilitator in a professional learning system: The Frameworks project. In G. Hoban (Ed.) Teacher learning for educational change (pp. 94-114). New York, NY: Open University Press. Author S. Michael Putman is Associate Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at Ball State University in Muncie, IN 47306. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in curriculum and instruction. His research interests include technology integration, educational policy, and literacy. 28