Actions to Support Change

Concerns and the Facilitation of Change

A first step in using concerns to guide interventions is to know what concerns the individuals have, especially their most intense concerns. The second step is to deliver interventions that might respond to those concerns. Unfortunately, there is no absolute set of universal prescriptions, but the following suggestions offer examples of interventions that might be useful.

Stage 0 - Unconcerned

  1. If possible, involve teachers in discussions and decisions about the innovation and its implementation.
  2. Share enough information to arouse interest but not so much that it overwhelms.
  3. Acknowledge that a lack of awareness is expected and reasonable and that no questions about the innovation are foolish.
  4. Encourage unaware persons to talk with colleagues who know about the innovation.
  5. Take steps to minimize gossip and inaccurate sharing of information about the innovation.

Stage 1 - Informational Concerns

  1. Provide clear and accurate information about the innovation.
  2. Use a variety of ways to share information—verbally, in writing, and through any available media. Communicate with individuals and with small and large groups.
  3. Have persons who have used the innovation in other settings visit with your teachers. Visits to other schools could also be arranged.
  4. Help teachers see how the innovation relates to their current practices, both in regard to similarities and differences.
  5. Be enthusiastic and enhance the visibility of others who are excited.

Stage 2 - Personal Concerns

  1. Legitimize existence and expression of personal concerns. Knowing these concerns are common and that others have them can be comforting.
  2. Use personal notes and conversations to provide encouragement and reinforce personal adequacy.
  3. Connect these teachers with others whose personal concerns have diminished and who will be supportive.
  4. Show how the innovation can be implemented sequentially rather than in one big leap. It is important to establish expectations that are attainable.
  5. Do not push innovation use but encourage and support it while maintaining expectations.

Stage 3 - Management Concerns

  1. Clarify the steps and components of the innovation. Information from innovation configurations will be helpful here.
  2. Provide answers that address the small specific “how-to” issues that are so often the cause of management concerns.
  3. Demonstrate exact and practical solutions to the logistical problems that contribute to the concerns.
  4. Help teachers sequence specific activities and set timelines for their accomplishments.
  5. Attend to the immediate demands of the innovation not what will be or could be in the future.

Stage 4 - Consequence Concerns

  1. Provide these individuals with opportunities to visit other settings where the innovation is in use and to attend conferences on the topic.
  2. Don’t overlook these individuals. Give them positive feedback and needed support.
  3. Find opportunities for these persons to share their skills with others.
  4. Share with these persons information pertaining to the innovation.

Stage 5 - Collaborative Concerns

  1. Provide these individuals with opportunities to develop those skills necessary for working collaboratively.
  2. Bring together those persons, both within and outside the school, who are interested in collaboration.
  3. Help the collaborators establish reasonable expectations and guidelines for the collaborative effort.
  4. Use these persons to provide technical assistance to others who need assistance.
  5. Encourage the collaborators, but don’t attempt to force collaboration on those who are not interested.

Stage 6 - Refocusing Concerns

  1. Respect and encourage the interest these persons have for finding a better way.
  2. Help these individuals channel their ideas and energies in ways that will be productive rather than counterproductive.
  3. Encourage these individuals to act on their concerns for program improvement.
  4. Help these persons access resources they may need to refine their ideas and put them into practice.
  5. Be aware of and willing to accept the fact that these persons may replace or significantly modify the existing innovations.

From Taking Charge of Change (pp. 44-46), by S. M. Hord, W. L. Rutherford, L. Huling-Austin, and G. E. Hall, 2006, Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Copyright ©2006 by SEDL. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from SEDL or by submitting an online copyright request form at