Written Assignment #1
Dr. Lynn Kitchen
January 13, 2008
Fullan (2007) identifies many critical factors that impact innovations from the initiation
stage, through the implementation stage and into the institutionalization stage. Of these factors, I
have chosen the 10 that I believe are of the most relevance to my school’s ability to successfully
implement a new math program.
A word on the background of my district, Piqua City Schools, is needed here to explain
my choice of factors. My district has been unable to pass its last two levy attempts. The local
community has a median income well below the starting salary that our district offers teachers.
The community’s apathy toward education is evident, not only in the failure of the levies, but
also every day in a lack of parental involvement. The refusal to fund levies to retain teachers
signals that the community would outraged by any perceived expenditure of new money, which a
new math program would certainly demand. Finally, many of the districts teachers expect to be
without a position next year, complicating the challenge of effectively training teachers in the
new program because many of the teachers that would be trained this year will not be in the
district next year and because many veteran teachers with licenses that are not content-specific
might be teaching in areas in which they are inexperienced.
In the Initiation stage, I believe that Access to Innovation, Teacher Advocacy, External
Change Agents and Community Pressure/Support/Apathy are my school’s biggest concerns.
Within the realm of the Implementation stage, I believe that my school’s success would be most
influenced by Complexity, Quality/Practicality, District Characteristics, Principal
Characteristics, Teacher Characteristics. The most pertinent factor from the Institutionalization
stage would be that of Continued Support from the district.
My school, Wilder Intermediate School, is restricted with respect to Access to Innovation
because our district has an enormous budget deficit that prevents significant spending. Likewise,
any perceived spending by the district will result in increased difficulty in convincing the local
community that the district desperately needs to pass a levy. My school also has to contend with
Teacher Advocacy as a challenge because Piqua has a recent history of abandoning new
programs soon after they are implemented. With this lack of confidence on the part of the
teachers, the district would face resistance and skepticism. This teacher doubt in the life
expectancy of the program would prevent them from giving their full energy and efforts to the
program. The most powerful External Change Agent that faces my school’s success is the fact
that a failed levy in March would result in wide cuts across the district. These cuts would greatly
disrupt any progress that the school might have experienced in the innovation. Finally,
Community Pressure/Support/Apathy is the overriding factor that affects all of the other aspects
of this innovation. Our local community simply does not understand the long-term necessity of
educational spending. I believe that the district would face community uproar if the decision
were made to spend money on a new program.
Between the number of inexperienced teachers currently in the district and the possibility
of teachers in content areas in which they have little or no experience, the factors of Complexity
and Quality/Practicality loom large as considerations in this decision. An overly complicated
program would challenge teachers that need desperately to focus on other aspects of teaching.
Likewise, the availability of professional development and resources must be considered when
the initiative’s practicality is measured. District characteristics such as the district’s tendency to
perpetuate newly adopted programs and the ability to effectively provide professional
development appropriate to the needs of the teaching staff. Wilder’s principal’s characteristics
are among the few factors that seem to favor the new program. My principal understands the
challenges inherent to implementing a new program, as such, he would spend a great deal of time
ensuring that teachers understand the new program and how to effectively increase their
competencies with it. Lastly, the teacher characteristics of my staff must be evaluated. I believe
that my staff is capable of mastering a new program, but, as I alluded to earlier, many teachers
feel betrayed by the district’s recent, unimpressive cycle of implementation and abandonment.
The most important consideration from the Institutionalization stage is that of Continued
District Support. As noted multiple times before, the district’s inability/refusal to provide the
necessary support and dedication to recent initiatives suggests that there would be little support
past the purchase of the program. Additional resources, such as consumables, manipulatives or
technological resources that the district opts not to provide could be the difference between
success and failure. What’s more, many recent curricular implementations have relied solely on
the presentations by salespeople rather than continued, responsive professional development and
assistance to train teachers. This practice has left many teachers confused by, skeptical of and
disillusioned with new programs.
Upon consideration of these ten factors, I have to think that now is not the right time to
try to implement a new math program. None of the district personnel, teachers or community
members seem to be in an ideal position to be receptive enough for a new initiative to be
successful or financially justifiable.
Fullan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change. New York: Teachers College