Dr. S. Michael Putman, Ball State University


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Dr. S. Michael Putman, Ball State University

  1. 1. Leadership for Effective Change: Creating Intentionality Using Staff Development S. Michael Putman Ball State University ABSTRACTThe tenets set forth within the No Child Left Behind legislation have created a focus onteacher practices and student achievement. Professional development has been shown tobe an effective vehicle to potentially impact both of these variables; however, effectiveleadership is needed to ensure this potential is maximized. The Intentional TeachingModel (INTENT) was created to provide a step-by-step method school leaders could use toconduct professional development activities aimed at promoting change in the instructionalpractices of teachers. This article outlines the phases of the model with attention directedtowards 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 andadministrators have been required to devote significant attention and resources towards methodsto improve student outcomes (Andrews & Rothman, 2002). Theoretically, the sought afterimprovements in achievement can be accomplished in a variety of ways; however, it has beenwritten that many of the variables necessary for success are out of the control of schoolleadership. Accordingly, attention needs to be directed towards controllable factors within theschool context, such as professional development (Reeves, 2006). The inherent difficulty in this, however, is that professional development is a complexprocess 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 hasbeen studied extensively; yet school leaders currently lack a step-by-step method for formulatingprofessional 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 iscritical to look at the role of an educational change agent within the process of professionaldevelopment 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 developmentactivities targeted towards mandated changes in practices (see Guskey, 2002). This notionunderscores the necessity of effective leadership within the school context to guide and supportteachers in their efforts to alter practices while simultaneously maintaining a positive climatefocused upon student growth. Incorporating elements associated with stage-matchedinterventions (Prochaska & Norcross, 2001), as well as theories of organizational change (Senge,1990), the Intentional Teaching Model (INTENT) was created to provide school leaders with aresearch-based method for attaining these objectives. INTENT is based upon the concept ofintentionality, which is characterized by the display of contextually specific behaviors to reachpersonally relevant short and long-term goals. Specific to a school setting, intentionality wouldbe 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 improvingreading achievement scores by 3%.The Change Agent Leadership is a vital component within successful change and growth. INTENTacknowledges and adheres to this principle as it is implemented under the guidance of anindividual, such as a building administrator or respected teacher, or small team of individualsfrom within the school. As the instructional leader(s), the change agent is vital to maintaining theongoing practices of reflection and modeling, as well as mediating attempts by teachers to trynew practices within the context of professional development activities. The change agent mustbe a multi-tasker who can simultaneously adopt the role of coach, cheerleader, or mentor. He/shemust also be an effective communicator who is able to engage faculty in candid conversations toensure that they are taking an active role in professional development activities. Theseconversations 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 arereluctant to participate in the change process because they did not see the change as morebeneficial than maintaining current practices. There is no set formula for doing this, which iswhy the change agent must have an established and open relationship with participants. Thechange agent must know the teachers well enough to best identify the methods that will helpthem begin to think about change. This could include actions such as providing relevantliterature, scheduling opportunities for modeling by peers or experts, or facilitating thedevelopment of small, short-term goals. The change agent must realize that mandatingcompliance will most likely cause resistance and decrease the likelihood that sought afterchanges will occur. Not all teachers need to engage the planned changes initially, butparticipation for all is an important goal to help maintain morale and to promote the effort ascollaborative. As a result, the change agent must remind some teachers of the school goals moreoften than others. Weak leadership on the part of the change agent and failure to challengeteachers to grow beyond their comfort zone represent primary causes in undermining the creationof intentionality in teachers. 22
  3. 3. The Intentional Teaching Model Prior research has documented the vital leadership role of the change agent withinsuccessful applications of INTENT in schools (see Cassady, Putman, Smith, & Jameson, 2006;Putman, Cassady, & Smith, 2009). It has also demonstrated a number of key factors directlylinked to the capacity of the change agent to affect teacher behavior within professionaldevelopment activities. Following a brief description of the phases of INTENT, these factorswill be addressed with particular attention to ongoing leadership efforts that maximize thelikelihood that the short and long-term goals and outcomes formulated by schools can beachieved. Phase 1: Individual theory articulation. Beliefs drive practices; thus, efforts to changebehavior must begin with examinations of the theoretical orientations and beliefs of those whowill be directly affected by change efforts (Duffy, 2005; Turbill, 2002). For this reason, the firstphase of INTENT is focused upon information gathering and accessing teachers’ beliefs abouteffective instruction through the administration of surveys or inventories of beliefs. Theinformation gathered by the change agent within this initial phase is utilized to establish astarting point for the professional development activities and to assist teachers in individuallyand collectively reflecting about how their beliefs influence their thoughts and actions.Concurrently, this also helps the change agent to guide teachers in considering their currentinstructional beliefs in relation to the anticipated outcomes. Through these activities and theefforts 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 havebeen determined through the efforts of the change agent in phase 1, phase 2 of INTENT ismarked by active efforts of the change agent to help teachers to identify and establish goals thatwill 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 commonpurpose 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 variousroles based upon the readiness for change exhibited by teachers. For example, when workingwith individuals who are not yet ready or willing to change practices, the change agent shouldseek 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 theimportance of developing their teaching repertoire to effectively plan and implement instructionthat seeks to develop students’ skills and knowledge as described by curricular goals or studentneeds. The key to doing this is to provide information as to why change is necessary and howthe change benefits their students before telling them they must change. On the other hand, thechange agent should engage teachers who have already noted the need to change practices insmall and large group discussions focused upon jointly planning specific activities and strategiesdirected towards the goals established by the group. Once the goals and subsequent strategiesare selected, the change agent finalizes plans with the committed teachers and prepares them foraction. Phase 3: Active change. Phase 3 marks an action phase where teachers are makingdeliberate attempts to modify instructional practices based on the goals and plans established inphase 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 asthey will likely need to provide encouragement or expert advice depending on the outcomes ofteachers’ 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 phaseprogresses in a cyclical fashion as individuals and groups come successively closer to the statedgoal(s) within iterations of the action-evaluation-reformulation cycle. Even during cycles wherethe attempted implementations fall short of intended outcomes, the change agent must guide theprocess of evaluating and reformulating actions on a regular basis to help the teaching team stayon target. Within phase 3, examinations of data should occur under the guidance of the changeagent to ensure successful movement within the three sub-steps. The teachers involved in theprofessional development must be active participants in this process to ensure any modifiedgoals match targeted outcomes and preserve faculty support. Killon (2002) recommended thatboth student achievement and teacher behavior should be considered as part of this process asboth are relevant to continued progress toward the intended outcomes. Student data is likely tobe readily accessible; however, the change agent may need to administer brief surveys and/orinformal observations to note teacher’s individual needs within the process. Success should beutilized as a tool to help build confidence in participating teachers and could help overcome thereluctance 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 behaviorsaligned 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 strategiesthat were observed to be effective and maintain the positive change. The change agent shouldengage the faculty in periodic revisits to the phases of the intentional teaching model whenproblems are faced; to identify an addition or modification to the current practice will likely leadto additional success. Overall, the momentum that began with successes in phase 3 is maintainedand 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 organizationalleadership and professional development, yet there are several factors that would be consideredessential variables that are directly associated with the change agent. Change agents whodemonstrated a thoughtful consideration and significant focus on these repeatedly observedpositive results. These change agents helped to develop intentional teachers who recognized theneed for the implementation of effective instructional strategies based upon student needs andreadiness levels (see Cassady, et al., 2006). The result was improved student achievement thatwas sustained over a three-year period (Putman, et al., 2009). On the other hand, schools whoseleadership 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 strategiesmarked by a determination that a single practice, such as using the adopted textbook, served thegreatest number of students and, therefore, marked the most appropriate instructional option(Putman et al.). Personal beliefs of teachers. Research has consistently demonstrated the impact ofteachers’ 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 beforeteachers can integrate new knowledge with their existing beliefs, they need to examine andspecifically articulate their beliefs. Professional development that begins with the change agentfocusing on this form of reflection within attempts to change practices has been shown to helpteachers in “reconstructing their existing knowledge and beliefs” (Spillane, 2000, p. 17).INTENT incorporates this important information within phase 1 as a baseline for beliefs isestablished prior to full-scale implementation of the remaining phases of the model. Priorresearch on INTENT accessed teachers’ theoretical orientations toward reading (see DeFord,1985) and basic beliefs about reading instruction (see Cassady & Smith, 2005) to gain initialinformation regarding teachers’ stance on reading instruction. While explicit theory articulation is an important component within reflectiveprofessional development, it is also necessary for school leaders and/or the change agent toconduct 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 betteralign suggestions to the teaching staff. Ultimately, this adds relevancy to the reflectionsfacilitated by the change agent that occur as part of the process and to the professionalknowledge that is sought as it further relates the information to the elements a teacher facesdaily, an important component in successful growth (Anders, Hoffman, & Duffy, 2000; Elliott &Churchman-Langlois, 2002). Teacher implementation. As teachers attempt to implement the principles or conceptsaddressed by professional learning into practice, they need opportunities to apply new strategiesin 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 increasethe 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 successesand disappointments associated with the efforts. These conversations will likely result inmodifications to the goals and the expected outcomes. Effective leadership from the changeagent will enhance the outcomes associated with iterative process of evaluating andreformulating goals addressed in phase 3 and help the teaching team stay on target. Theseconstant conversations also help with future buy-in by those reluctant to change as they are ableto see and learn of team accomplishments in rapid succession. Once again, the influence of the change agent is noted as necessary to ensure ongoingsupport and follow-up to maintain momentum towards the long-term plan (Learning FirstAlliance, 2000). Spillane (2000) lends credence to the importance of selecting who should fillthe role of the change agent as he noted that sometimes a lead teacher is uniquely situated tofulfill these functions as they are imbedded within the experience and can provideencouragement within the context of practice. Support can additionally be supplied in the formof continued modeling and coaching for teachers in contexts of instruction (Cambourne, 1995). Collaboration. The context created by INTENT also represents opportunities forcollaborative work among teachers. Within these collaborative contexts, participants, under theguidance of the change agent, engage in socially constructed knowledge formation as theyattempt “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 changeagent helps create a community of learners (Barth, 1990). Two strategies led by the change agentare especially effective at creating these collaborative contexts and affecting positive change.The first approach involves the change agent facilitating large-group meetings that includebreakout sessions for smaller teams. In this model, teachers and school leaders, including thechange agent, gather and discuss the organizational issues of program implementation. Thelarger group then divides into small groups with the change agent facilitating discussions amongthe groups to address the small groups’ specific needs and concerns. These conversations areespecially useful in identifying potential organizational difficulties and alleviated schedulingconflicts for small group members to meet. The second approach that has proven successful within the implementation of INTENTinvolved a coaching or mentoring model. Within the model, the change agent works withspecific small groups over the course of time established for the professional developmentactivities. Participants meet and are encouraged to share and reflect upon their practices. Asrelationships are established and comfort with practices increases, the change agent createsopportunities for small group members to begin observing each other teaching with the changeagent present. Once all team members are observed, the team reconvenes to provide feedback toeach other based upon observations. Under the change agent’s guidance, the group thenidentifies strategies and methods for maintaining momentum towards the goals established by thegroup. As ongoing meetings occur, the relationships built enable conversations necessary topromote the sought after behavioral change in teachers. Conclusion In 1998, Holland wrote, “change depends on a broad belief that doing somethingdifferently will make it better” (p. 26). To truly make educators capable of the sweeping changessought 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 necessityof inviting teachers to take an active role in changing themselves. Leaders need to recognize anduse the principles associated with effective leadership and implement professional developmentprograms 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 professionaldevelopment; it also reinforces that a successful change agent is instrumental in supporting andnurturing teacher growth. School leaders need only to look towards the four phases of INTENTand to adhere to the critical variables addressed above to help create teachers who are committedto constant instructional improvements and who conscientiously use practices that are mostlikely to achieve sought after student outcomes. ReferencesAllington, 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.pdfTurbill, 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. AuthorS. Michael Putman is Associate Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at BallState University in Muncie, IN 47306. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses incurriculum and instruction. His research interests include technology integration, educationalpolicy, and literacy. 28