SEDL Home Southwest Educational Development Laboratory
     
  Facilitative Leadership: The Imperative for Change
Previous Page Next Page
 

Leaders' Change-Facilitating Actions

Leadership vs. Management
The Need for Leaders

The Leaders

Principals

Leadership teams

Superintendents


A Six-Component Framework

Creating an Atmosphere and Culture for Change

Developing and Communicating the Vision

Planning and Providing Resources

Providing Training and Development

Monitoring and Checking Progress

Continuing to Give Assistance


Tools and Techniques for Leaders

Tools for Change Facilitators

Principles of Change Facilitation


A Few More Words about Facilitation

Concluding This Section

Leadership is the process of translating intentions into reality.
-- P. Block, 1987, p. 98

As suggested in the previous section, successful change of individuals' knowledge and practices in classrooms and schools appears to be accompanied by ongoing support and assistance to them as they are implementing the changes. This assistance comes in various forms and from various sources. One of the sources identified was school principals, who can exercise leadership in facilitating the change process. Principals are not the only persons providing facilitative leadership, however, for such leadership is not defined by positions on organizational charts. Rather, it is defined functionally.

Leadership vs. Management

The attention to leadership has been unprecedented in business, and government, as well as education. What is the leadership function? One aspect of the leadership discussion for the past several years has focused on the distinction between management, which educational administrators typically do with reasonable success, and leadership, which educational administrators allegedly do not do, but should. Although these concepts are frequently confused, several researchers have made a clear distinction.

For example, Gardner (1990) suggests that leadership is "the process of persuasion or example by which an individual (or leadership team) induces a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the leader and his or her followers" (p. 1). Further, he reserves the term "managers" for individuals who "hold a directive post in an organization presiding over the resources by which the organization functions, allocating resources prudently, and making the best possible use of people" (Gardner, 1990, p. 3). In agreement, Tosi (1982) suggests that "leading is an influence process; managing may be seen as the act of making choices about the form and structure of those factors that fall within the boundaries of managerial discretion" (p. 233).

As early as 1978, Burns distinguished between the role of manager, who negotiates with employees to obtain balanced transactions of rewards for employee efforts, and the role of leader, who targets efforts to change, improve, and transform the organization. Tichy and Devanna (1986) expanded on Burns's ideas, asserting that managers engage in very little change but manage what is present and leave things much as they found them when they depart. Transformational leadership, they declared, focuses on change, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The leader changes and transforms the organization according to a vision of a preferred status. Leaders, then, are change makers and transformers, guiding the organization to a new and more compelling vision, a demanding role expectation. Transactional and transformational leadership are "often viewed as complementary," with transactional practices needed to get the day-to-day routines carried out (Leithwood, 1992b, p. 9). Leithwood, however, maintains that these "practices do not stimulate improvement transformational leadership provides the incentive" (p. 9).

Who are the leaders who stimulate improvement? "There is no single key actor" (Murphy, 1991c, p. 32). Leadership, as noted above, is defined by function. It is not restricted to people occupying particular positions. Any person who can deliver the leadership function is a leader. Such persons can include principals, superintendents, and school board members. However, teachers, parents, and community members can be significant educational leaders, as can central office consultants or specialists, external agency staff, and state department personnel. Students can act as leaders. Anyone can be a leader who provides leadership, "the process of translating intentions into reality" (Block, 1987, p. 98).

The Need for Leaders

Deal (1990) maintains that "nothing will happen without leadership. From someone -- or someplace -- energy needs to be created, released, channeled, or mobilized to get the ball rolling in the right direction" (p. 4). "Research on schools in the last couple of decades leads to the interpretation that schools can develop as places for excellent teaching and learning, but left to their own devices many of them will not" (Wimpelberg, 1987, p. 100). As Glatter (1987) points out, "there has too often been an assumption that you only need to introduce an innovation for it to be effectively absorbed by the institution" (p. 61). As Block maintains, leaders are needed to translate intentions into reality.

Many researchers have reported the importance of effective school-based leadership (Duttweiler & Hord, 1987; Fullan, 1985; Rutherford, 1985), and effective district-level leadership in bringing about change and improvement (Coleman & LaRocque, 1990; Hill, Wise, & Shapiro, 1989; Jacobson, 1986; Muller, 1989; Murphy, Hallinger, & Peterson, 1985; Paulu, 1988). The challenge for these leaders is to provide teaching/learning conditions and school and district structures (curricular, organizational, physical) that enable students to function effectively and develop the attributes necessary for lifelong learning, independent living, and participation as a contributing member of society. School improvement efforts to realize these outcomes will be enhanced by the vision and leadership of many individuals, internal and external to the system (Cohen, 1987; Goodlad, 1975; Fullan, 1991; Hall & Hord, 1987; Schlechty, 1988; Sergiovanni, 1990b). These individuals will include school board members, superintendent and other central office staff, principals, lead/mentor teachers, parents and community representatives, and others at the regional and state levels (Barth, 1988; Engel, 1990; Johnston, Bickel, & Wallace, 1990).

The Leaders

Cawelti (1987) noted that "research has documented what common sense has long dictated: that school leaders do determine whether or not schools are successful" (p. 3). This growing knowledge base points to the importance of effective principals to student success in school. Beginning with the effective schools studies, which were conducted largely in low socioeconomic settings, for example by Edmonds (1979), Lezotte and Bancroft (1985), Venezky and Winfield (1979), and others, the more effective campuses were found to be administered by strong educational leaders.

Principals.
Thomas, as early as 1978, studying the role of principal in managing diverse programs, concluded that many factors affect implementation, but none so much as the leadership of the campus principal. More recently, the Task Force on Education for Economic Growth (1983) identified the primary determining factor of excellence in public schools as the skillful leadership of the individual principal. The Task Force report further noted that on campuses where principals have leadership skills and are highly motivated, the effects have been startling, regardless of the unique ethnic or socioeconomic factors of the school community and the nature of the populations the school serves.

Research and "exemplary practice" have documented that the principal is a central element in improving instructional programs within the school (Fullan, 1991; Hansen & Smith, 1989). Andrews maintained in an interview with Brandt (1987) that "gains and losses in students' test scores are directly related to teachers' perceptions of their principal's leadership" (Brandt, 1987, p. 9). Lieberman and Miller (1981) noted that the principal is critical in making changes happen in schools. Reinhard, Arends, Kutz, Lovell, and Wyant (1980) determined that, at each stage of the change process, contributions by the principal were extremely important to the project's overall success.

Targeting the principal as a leader of change, studies have focused on what effective principals do. Leithwood and Montgomery (1982) found that "effective" principals were proactive in nature and took steps to secure support for change efforts on behalf of their students. Stallings and Mohlman (1981) indicated that principals who were particularly effective in program implementation went out of their way to be helpful to teachers and staff, were constructive in criticism they provided, and explained their reasons for suggesting behavior changes. They shared new ideas, set good examples by being on time or staying late when necessary, were well prepared, and cared for the personal welfare of their teachers (Rutherford, Hord, Huling, & Hall, 1983).

Little (1981) found that effective change facilitation occurred in schools that were administered by principals who "communicate particular expectations to teachers; model the norms they support; sanction teachers who perform well by using and allocating available resources; and protect teachers from outside interferences by acting as a 'buffer' between the district and the needs of the teachers" (p. 97). From a four-year study of London schools, Mortimore and Sammons (1987) reported 12 key factors related to schools' effectiveness. The first of these was the principal's purposeful leadership of the staff, where the principal "understands the needs of the school and is actively involved in the school's work, without exerting total control over the staff" (p. 7).

In a description of principals' behaviors relating to successful change facilitation, Rutherford and colleagues (1983) found the following factors:

They have a clear vision of short and long-range goals for the school, and they work intensely with brute persistence to attain their vision. The achievement and happiness of students is their first priority; and they have high expectations for students, teachers, and themselves. They are actively involved in decision-making relative to instructional and administrative affairs, and they attend to instructional objectives as well as instructional strategies. They collect information that keeps them well informed about the performance of their teachers; they involve teachers in decision-making but within the framework of established goals and expectations; and directly or indirectly they provide for the development of teachers' knowledge and skills, and they protect the school and faculty from unnecessary intrusions. They seek policy changes at the district level for the benefit of the school, and they give enthusiastic support to a change. They provide for the personal welfare of teachers, and also model the norms they want teachers to support. They aggressively seek support for resources within and outside the school to foster the goals of the school. (Adapted from p. 113)

Leadership teams
While the early studies of leader behaviors for change focused largely on principals, it also became clear from these studies that principals were aided by assistant principals (Mortimore & Sammons, 1987), by formally organized school improvement teams of teachers, and by more informal but collegial arrangements with "change facilitator" teachers on their staff, central office personnel, and external consultants (Hord, Stiegelbauer, & Hall, 1984). Parents, too, were active. Cawelti (1987) noted that "we face a critical shortage of instructional leaders" (p. 3), thus there is a need to encourage leadership wherever it may be found. Principals were aided by assistant principals (Mortimore & Sammons, 1987), by formally organized school improvement teams of teachers, central office personnel, and external consultants. Parents, too, were active.

Superintendents.
An emerging knowledge base has been developing about strategies used by the district-level executive, whose area of responsibility is the entire district and community. Research studies have shown that superintendents develop particular relationships with principals as their allies for change. Superintendents use, at the district level, strategies that are parallel to those used by principals at the school level. It is not conceivable that all superintendents who are facilitating change effectively can allocate major amounts of their time to these efforts. Therefore, many superintendents delegate responsibilities to central office staff but nevertheless actively monitor the process and progress of reform. Superintendents use, at the district level, strategies that are parallel to those used by principals at the school level.

A schema by which to consider what principals, leadership teams, superintendents, and other leaders do to implement change has been adapted from a formulation reported by Hord and Huling-Austin (1986). The findings that follow apply to principals and superintendents (whose actions typically have high impact) and to all other persons in any positions who are willing and able to exercise the actions described.

A Six-Component Framework

From a longitudinal study that focused specifically on identifying the actions or interventions of principals and other facilitators in behalf of teachers' implementation of change, a classification of interventions resulted (Hord & Huling-Austin, 1986). Eight functional classifications of interventions were used to organize the actions of principals and other facilitators (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Classifications of Interventions

Developing supportive
organizational arrangements
planning, managing,
providing materials,
resources, space, inc.
Training teaching, reviewing
and clarifying new
knowledge and skills
Monitoring and evaluation collecting, analyzing,
reporting, and transferring data
Providing consultation
and reinforcement
promoting innovation use
through problem solving
and technical assistance
to individual users
External communication informing outsiders
Dissemination gaining support
of outsiders
and promoting use
of the innovation
by outsiders
Impeding discouraging or
interrupting use
Expressing and
responding to concerns
complimenting, praising,
acknowledging,
complaining, reprimanding

Adapted from Hord & Huyling-Austin, 1986, p.105

Of these eight functions, four are represented most frequently in the studies of school change:

  1. providing logistical and organizational arrangements,
  2. training,
  3. monitoring and evaluation, and
  4. providing consultation/problem solving and reinforcement.

In addition, two other functions are prominent in the literature on change implementation: creating an atmosphere and culture for change, and communicating the vision. A six-part framework, then, is used here to report findings about leaders' roles in implementing change. Note that the Hord and Huling-Austin (1986) labels have been slightly modified for improved reader understanding (i.e., "consultation and reinforcement" has been renamed, "continuing to give assistance"):

  • Creating an atmosphere and culture for change
  • Developing and communicating the vision
  • Planning and providing resources
  • Providing training and development
  • Monitoring and checking progress
  • Continuing to give assistance.

Creating an atmosphere and culture for change.
"No effort studied caught fire without an active superintendent willing to attack the school system's inertia" (Hill, Wise, & Shapiro, 1989, p. 20). Superintendents work actively to challenge administrators, teachers, and other staff to create innovative ideas and make suggestions for improvement. To develop this attitude toward change, they arrange meetings for staff to share their ideas, and they support staff's risk- taking activities by acknowledging that mistakes will be made. They declare consistently that mistakes will be followed by learning. Superintendents express the value of principals who take actions for change, not for the status quo (Paulu, 1988). One way principals symbolize action and involvement is to be a highly visible presence in the school and in classrooms; teachers "seek these principals out; they want them in their classrooms" (Brandt, 1987, p. 13).

So that an internal change climate could flourish, superintendents spend time and energy managing issues external to the schools. They do this through sensitivity to community concerns and activity in public relations, keeping the community informed. They make sure that a harmonious environment pervades the district in order to nurture the internal creativity of the school staffs. Murphy, Hallinger, and Peterson (1985) reported that superintendents engage in district internal culture building through several activities:

  • being available to speak to and communicate with staff; having an open-door policy, never being too busy to interact with staff and exhibit interest and support
  • being a team player and building coalitions, team work groups, and committees to address issues
  • being concerned about staff and visiting schools to support staff morale
  • being a problem solver by securing rapid solutions to problems and cutting through red tape.

At the school level principals can act to shape the culture. From an analysis of five case studies, Deal and Peterson (1990) cite the following behaviors used by principals to develop a particular culture in the school:

  • developing a sense of mission and values about what the school should be, discussing this with faculty and community and gradually defining it
  • selecting staff who can share, express, and reinforce the values of the leader in order to help build the desired culture
  • facing conflict, being willing to deal with disputes, and through conflict, building unity
  • using daily routines and concrete actions and behaviors to demonstrate and exemplify values and beliefs
  • telling stories to illustrate what they value in school, spreading the stories that become legends
  • nurturing the traditions and rituals to express, define, and reinforce the school culture.

The five principals in the five case studies used these six tactics in a variety of ways, based on their particular schools and their preferences for a specific kind of culture (Deal & Peterson, 1990). For an extensive review of cultural and contextual factors, see Boyd (1992).

Developing and communicating the vision.
In this paper vision is distinguished from mission, which is thought of as the purpose for which the district and/or school exists and indicates what the district/school's intended outcomes will be. Vision refers to mental pictures of what the school or its parts (programs, processes, etc.) might look like in a changed and improved state -- a preferred image of the future. Brandt (1987), reporting on Andrews's work in 100 schools, cites the principal's role in setting vision for the school as a high priority in achieving effectiveness. Yet, Fullan (1992) observes, a good principal does not singly create a vision and impose it; he or she builds a vision together with the participants of the school organization. In this way, "it becomes the common ground, the shared vision that compels all involved" (Méndez-Morse, 1992, in press). Buck's research (1989) cites the superintendent's vision as driving the organization to achieve its next stage of evolution.

Although Cuban (1985) specified that one role of the superintendent is as teacher of the district staff and community, introducing new ideas and possibilities for improving the district's schools, superintendents must be careful initially to align their suggestions with the community's beliefs and values (Hord, 1992). In Hord's study of superintendents' exiting of the role, respondents suggested that the superintendent might take such measures as hiring a sociologist to provide information about the community's shifts in values and cultural norms, so the superintendent could be aware of the situation and act accordingly.

Respondents also suggested that successful superintendents (those who provide effective programs for students and remain in their job) start with where the community and the staff are, work with these constituents collegially to study, review, and reflect on new ideas acquired through printed material and consultants, and develop new visions and plans for improving the school system. The superintendent provides an initial vision, and that vision expands through the interactions just described. Staff and community members are solicited to work on committees and task forces to shape and fill the original skeletal vision. Regularly and frequently the superintendent describes and promotes the vision to the public through radio and TV interview shows, through weekly interactions at the Rotary and Lions clubs, and at the community's favorite coffee shop. The superintendent increases the information flow to the district's professionals during periods of vision development through memos, items in the district's newsletter, and even at the football awards banquet. In addition, he or she spends a great deal of time in schools, explicitly articulating the district vision and priorities with administrators, teachers, and all other staff.

From their case studies of six urban high schools, Louis and Miles (1990) report that effective school leaders, those who realize change in their schools, are able to talk about their vision(s) for the school so that others understand and believe that the vision reflects their own interests. Such a vision doesn't have to be tightly defined, these authors suggest, but it should be realistic. Leaders first encourage participation in vision development (Hill, Wise, & Shapiro, 1989) and, second, help people develop images of "how to get there," so that action is directly tied to the vision and ownership is developed. "Both dimensions of the vision are both sharable and shared" (Boyd, 1992, p. 50). Boyd advises, "A clear vision of the school when the change is successfully implemented and how implementation will occur needs to be developed among all in the school" (1992, p. 51).

One way leaders entice staff to participate in vision development is through the study of student-performance data. In developing visions for improvement that relate to at-risk students, leaders may encounter resistance if the staff believe that "those kids can't learn any better anyway" (see Boyd, 1992, for discussion of beliefs and cultural norms). Vision building with a staff seems not necessarily to be influenced by the leader's race or ethnicity in at-risk settings. For instance, a Hispanic principal was a very successful leader for change with a predominantly white staff (Hord & Huling-Austin, 1986), and white superintendents led the charge to successful change in behalf of black and Hispanic students with a mix of white and minority staff (Hill, Wise, & Shapiro, 1989) (see Méndez-Morse, 1992, for discussion of leader characteristics).

Real ownership means sharing influence and authority.
Louis and Miles (1990) learned that even when the initial vision ideas spring from the principal (or even the district office), teachers, department heads, and school-based specialists need to know they can influence the vision (and its actualization) in significant ways. The staff should be rewarded for contributing ideas relative to the vision. Sharing the vision is not just a matter of exhorting staff to believe but also a way of sharing responsibility and accountability. Change leaders share success stories among the entire staff to reinforce the belief that change and achievement of the vision are possible. Not only do they communicate the vision and invite interest, but they do so frequently and consistently (Paulu, 1988).

Communicating the purpose of the school and its vision for improvement, and demonstrating visible commitment to the vision were cited as leadership functions that must be fulfilled in all improving schools (DeBevoise, 1984; Gersten & Carnine, 1981). Effective leaders can easily articulate their vision and goals for their schools (Manasse, 1982; MacPhail-Wilson & Guth, 1983; Rutherford, 1985). When asked, they respond with enthusiasm, reflecting a personal belief in and active support for their goals (Manasse, 1984). Furthermore, staff working with these leaders express the same vision for the school as the leaders do, though not necessarily in the same language. They also understand their leaders' expectations.

Vision and goal setting establish the parameters for leaders' subsequent actions, giving them a clear image of their schools in order to set priorities (Manasse, 1985). They use the goals as a continuing source of motivation and planning (Blumberg & Greenfield, 1980; Manasse, 1984; MacPhail-Wilson & Guth, 1983) and as a basis for providing clear, consistent, and well-communicated policy (McCurdy, 1983).

Planning and providing resources.
In describing change strategies at the local district and individual school levels, Fullan (1985) provides guidelines about factors that should be addressed at either level. An initial step at both levels is the development of a plan that may evolve through interaction with participants, or that may be developed by the leader(s). Louis and Miles (1990) prefer the evolutionary approach. They suggest that leadership in change processes involves planning. Further, effective planning for serious change in schools should avoid a grandiose "blueprinting" approach and instead have a strong evolutionary character.

Both the change program and the school develop steadily, driven by the goals for change and the shared vision. New opportunities are sought or appear serendipitously; data on the progress of the improvement effort suggest detours or new avenues; new capacities develop and permit more ambitious efforts than anyone had dreamed of. Evolutionary planning is not a hand-to-mouth approach but coherent, intelligent adaptation based on direct experience with what is working in moving toward the vision and what isn't.

Leaders think broadly about resources, and providing resources has always been accepted as a part of the leader's role in change. However, when a leader visits schools and classrooms and understands what administrators and teachers are doing, the probability that those resources are relevant increases (Brandt, 1987; Peterson, 1984). Superintendents use resource allocations to emphasize what the district's priorities are; for example, they provide enriched budgets for materials and resources focused on instructional improvement (Peterson, Murphy, & Hallinger, 1987), rather than on new carpeting for the district office.

In the more-successful districts the resources are not only additional dollars but also reallocations of time, people, materials, existing equipment, and assistance. Boyd (1992) points out, from her review of the literature, that change frequently fails because insufficient time was allocated. "The lack of resources has been a major barrier to sustained change efforts" (Boyd, 1992, p. 25). Successful leaders are more effective in putting dollars where they can make a real difference (Louis & Miles, 1990). Thus, leaders make resources available and allocate those resources in ways that maximize teacher change and effectiveness and, thus, student achievement (Rutherford, 1985). Fullan (1985) also suggests that emphasis be placed on such resources as released time for planning and training. It is not only material resources that count but also the time and energy demanded of people to plan, share, observe, and take action (Fullan, 1985).

Fullan emphasizes that "[E]ach school must be assisted by someone trained in supporting the endeavor. [Such] assistance is directed toward facilitating and prodding the process" (p. 414). Additional resources, according to Fullan, should be focused on developing the principal's leadership role and on developing the leadership team's role also (Fullan, 1991).

Often change is not initiated or is not successful because people believe they do not have enough money. Effective school change requires being proactive -- grabbing, getting, testing the limits in acquiring needed resources (Huff, Lake, & Schaalman, 1982), and taking advantage of potential resources rather than waiting for them to be provided. The image comes to mind of the school leader as a garage sale junkie, able to browse and find what the school needs in the most unlikely places, thus ensuring support for special projects (Bossert, Dwyer, Rowan, & Lee, 1982).

Leaders also stay abreast of new research and practice developments in curriculum and learning. They read and report on recent research at faculty meetings; they use lunch hours with staff to talk about research findings and proposed program ideas (Little, 1982). They search the environment for new information to share with teachers (McCurdy, 1983) and encourage their teachers to do the same (Louis & Miles, 1990).

Providing training and development.
A leadership function that must be satisfied in all improving schools is that of providing staff development (DeBevoise, 1984). In her review, Boyd (1992) reports that skill building and training are part of the process of change. Learning to do something new involves initial doubts about one's ability, incremental skill development, some successful experiences, and eventually clarity, meaning, and ownership (Fullan, 1985). Effective leaders use formal and informal data to identify needs of the staff for training and development (Little, 1982). Fullan's review of change strategies (1985), Joyce and Showers's research on staff development (1980), and Sergiovanni's writings of his experiences in working with leaders in schools (1990b) suggest investing early in demonstrations and modeling; later, when people are actually trying out new practice, training workshops prove more effective. School leaders who will assist the implementers with new practice, whether they are principals, special teachers, central office personnel, or others, will need training for their role.

Louis and Miles (1990) assert that training and support are master resources to help staff. One tactic used by effective principals is to arrange for staff members to serve as staff developers for others in their school, according to Andrews and reported by Brandt (1987). Many change efforts founder because teachers (and administrators) simply have not been provided with the opportunities to acquire the new skills that they need; frustration rather than resistance becomes the factor that undermines the planned activities. To demonstrate their commitment, effective leaders participate directly in staff development, taking an active role in planning, conducting, implementing, and evaluating in-service training (Odden, 1983; Russell, Mazzarella, White, & Maurer, 1985). By participating in staff development with principals and teachers, superintendents demonstrate that they, too, are a part of the community of learners in search of improvement (Murphy, Hallinger, & Peterson, 1985).

Monitoring and checking progress.
School improvement efforts, no matter how well planned, will always encounter problems at all stages. Some are so insignificant that they may not even be perceived as problems. Others are more severe. Louis and Miles (1990) cite the need for continuous monitoring in order to coordinate or orchestrate the change effort within the school and deal with problems appropriately. Any change effort that is more than trivial, or that involves many parts of the school, becomes a set of management issues. For example, key personnel leave the school and a component of the change effort is left leaderless; a new state mandate is passed that distracts staff from their own programs; a serious student discipline problem undermines a campaign to increase positive community involvement; after a review, staff believe that a major component of the program does not "fit" the school.

Louis and Miles observe that effective change facilitators constantly search for, confront, and acknowledge serious problems when they first appear and act rapidly to make major adjustments to solve them. Effective leaders become frequent visitors in the classrooms of at-risk students. They take time to discover what is happening in classrooms. They gather information through formal observations but use informal methods as well, including walking the hallways, popping in and out of classrooms, attending grade-level and departmental meetings, and holding spontaneous conversations with individual teachers. They follow up visits with feedback to teachers and plans for improving their use of new practices (Rutherford, 1985).

In a 1984 review of research on principals as instructional leaders, DeBevoise identified monitoring student and teacher performance as a significant strategy of leaders in an array of socioeconomic school contexts, including sites with high percentages of low-income students. Superintendents, as well, play an active role in monitoring change and improvement efforts (Pollack, Chrispeels, Watson, Brice, & McCormack, 1988). Pollack and colleagues report that superintendents use school and classroom visits to inspect curriculum and instruction and to assess progress in the implementation of new curriculum. They collect school and classroom products associated with the change. Student test data are used to monitor the impact of the change on students, as well as to provide input for the superintendents' supervision and evaluation of principals. Superintendents required change strategies to be implemented and followed up with principals to be sure that they were (Murphy & Hallinger, 1986).

Fullan (1985) expands on the idea of monitoring by specifying three considerations for collecting information on progress toward implementation. The first consideration is what kind of information to collect. By this, Fullan means finding out:

  • What is the state of implementation in the classroom?
  • What factors are affecting implementation? (What are the obstacles to and the facilitators of change in classroom practice, e.g., role of the principal, assistants, etc.?)
  • What are the outcomes? (What skills and attitudes of teachers are changing? How are student learning outcomes changing?) (p. 410).

The second consideration is the degree of formality of data collection, or how to gather the information. Formal methods include surveys, observation, testing, and such; informal methods involve interaction among implementers, between implementers and administrators, and between implementers and other facilitators. Fullan points to data-collection techniques developed by Hall and colleagues on concerns of teachers and levels of implementation of new practices (reported in Hall & Hord, 1987) as examples of techniques that can be used in both formal and informal ways. The resulting information is used in Fullan's third consideration, consulting with and assisting the implementers.

Continuing to give assistance.
The key to this strategy is the word "continuing." Resource provision and training are not one-shot events, for instance. As implementers move from novice to expert in their improvement efforts, their needs will change. Information about these needs is gathered through monitoring; assistance is then structured to focus appropriately on the needs. For example, if data indicate that some teachers have concerns about how to manage new practices in their classrooms, then the leader can share information, demonstrating or modeling new approaches, or arranging for teachers to visit classrooms in which the management issues have been resolved. If monitoring reveals that particular implementers are not putting specific components of the envisioned change into place, leaders can then help the implementers to incorporate the missing pieces into their practice. The leaders can assist by organizing lesson designs, arranging materials, and walking through lesson plans with implementers (Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, & Hall, 1987).

Attention to Fullan's third monitoring consideration can provide the basis for planning further assistance to the implementers. Thus, this function involves providing technical assistance to the implementers in a variety of formats -- one-to-one help from peers, administrators, or district resource staff; sharing among implementers; visits to sites where implementation has occurred. Relatively simple support, such as arranging for teachers' released time to meet regularly, cited earlier in "planning and providing resources," can produce important results if the changing implementation needs of teachers are addressed with useful information and tips on how to make the changes work in their classrooms, for example.

Small, regular amounts of time to foster formal and informal interaction among implementers is a necessity. Change lives or dies, according to Huberman and Crandall (1983), depending on the amount of time and assistance that is provided -- and, one might add, the quality and appropriateness of the assistance. In staff development literature, Joyce and Showers (1980) refer to such assistance as coaching. In Bush's study of the effects of staff development components (1984), coaching accounted for up to 84% of the variance of successful transfer of new practices into classrooms.

Direct, on-site assistance by the superintendent or other central office colleagues is a component of the superintendents' plan for assisting principals in implementing change (Coleman & LaRocque, 1990). Giving consistent attention and acting on problems that are identified involves enormous persistence and tenacity, and good leaders attack problems from every possible angle over a period of months (or even years) (Louis & Miles, 1990). The ability to be an effective leader for change requires a high tolerance for complexity and ambiguity. Coping with problems is difficult because not all the needs can be foreseen. Yet leaders tend to exhibit a willingness to live with risks, as they try various ways to solve persistent issues (Hall & Hord, 1987). They also look for positive features, and they directly and sincerely recognize and praise the teachers responsible (Rutherford, 1985). Celebrating progress is an important part of this sixth strategy, an aspect of it that is most often overlooked. Through a dual focus on positive progress and on identification of problems, followed by the necessary corrective action, leaders support the goals and expectations that they have established for their schools (Hall & Hord, 1987).

Tools and Techniques for Leaders

During the seventies and eighties the need for facilitating change became more clear. A parallel need was to understand the change process better and to clarify the role of the facilitators. A series of studies was launched to meet this need, and the Concerns-Based Adoption Model was developed.

Tools for change facilitators.
The Concerns-Based Adoption Model resulted from longitudinal studies of change in schools and colleges. The task was to understand what was needed to provide support for the implementation stage of the change process. The outcomes were concepts, tools, and techniques for the use of the change facilitator. Three diagnostic components included Stages of Concern, which describes the affective side of change, or how individuals respond or feel about a change; Levels of Use, how individuals are behaving relative to a change; and Innovation Configuration, how the change is being put into effect in classrooms and schools. Two prescriptive frameworks for change facilitators were developed out of these studies: the Intervention Taxonomy, which classifies the kinds of interventions needed for successful change, and the Intervention Anatomy, which characterizes various aspects of an intervention.

Hall, Wallace, and Dossett (1973) conceptualized the seminal model and Hall and Hord (1987) and Hord, Rutherford, Huling- Austin, and Hall (1987) produced a compilation of the studies. Seven basic assumptions informed the research, were verified, and provided guidelines for structuring the change facilitator's activities.

Principles of change facilitation.
The first principle is understanding that change is a process, not an event; therefore, change requires time, energy, and the resources to support it as it unfolds. Second, change is accomplished by individuals first, then by institutions. There is, of course, individual/organizational interaction in the process of change. It is difficult, for instance, for individuals in a school to become collegial if the organization does not change scheduling and other structures to allow or support this to happen. The model, however, assumes primacy of the individual, suggesting that only when the persons in an organization have changed, can it be said that the organization has changed. Third, change is a highly personal experience (thus the focus on the individual as the unit of analysis in this model); individuals change at different rates and in different ways.

Fourth, change entails growth in both feelings about and skills in using new programs; thus, individuals change in these two important ways over the course of a change experience. Fifth, interventions can be designed to support the individual's implementation of the innovation. The change facilitator should take into account the feelings and skills of the individual when planning actions to support the change process. Sixth, the change facilitator needs to adapt to the differing needs of individuals and to their changing needs over time. Last, the change facilitator must consider the systemic nature of the organization when making interventions, since activities targeted for one area of the system may well have unanticipated effects in another.

The change facilitator has tools for collecting diagnostic information about individuals and the innovation during the process of change. Based on the diagnostic data, the change facilitator makes interventions selected from the resources available and targeted appropriately for the individuals. The model is based on the hypothesis that proactive facilitators, working in particular ways, will enable new programs, or innovations, to be implemented more effectively and efficiently, moving over time toward desired goals.

The premise that "change is a process," first stated in 1973 by Hall, Wallace, and Dossett, has been verified in other studies of change and is now a widely espoused axiom. Beer, Eisenstat, and Spector (1990) in the corporate sector, for example, report that "companies need a particular mind-set for managing change: one that emphasizes process persistence over a long period of time as opposed to quick fixes" (p. 166). However, current practice at all educational levels -- school, district, state, and national -- tends to ignore this concept. Many educational policymakers behave as if change is a single event and can simply be mandated. Such a view ignores the critical period of implementation, putting change into place, and the requirements for support by knowledgeable and skilled facilitators.

A Few More Words about Facilitation

Fullan (1991) and Huberman and Miles (1984) maintain that leaders at all levels must provide "specific implementation pressure and support" (Fullan, 1991, p. 198). From studying exemplary schools, Sagor (1992) notes a constant push for improvement; "the secret seemed to be in providing the right combination of pressure to improve along with meaningful support" (p. 13). One way leaders maintain pressure is by continually asking probing questions, "yet providing teachers with personal support" (p. 18). They specify that the bottom line for making change at the school or district level can be characterized by the two terms "pressure" and "support." This "bare-bones" formulation has been expressed succinctly by researchers, policy analysts, and practitioners in the field:

[Change] ... encompasses a world of complexity, and realizing and maintaining the delicate yet crucial balance between the humanitarian concerns of supportive behavior and the pragmatic dictates of responsible authority could be fairly said to constitute the fundamental practical problem of change management. (Hord, 1987, p. 81)

Effective implementation requires a strategic balance of pressure and support. (McLaughlin, 1987, p. 171)

[A]dministrative decisiveness bordering on coercion, but intelligently and supportively exercised, may be the surest path to significant school improvement. (Huberman & Miles, 1986, p. 70)

Leaders who supply these dimensions know how to both "empower people and yell, charge. They are both generals and sheepherders" (Andrews, quoted by Brandt, 1987, p. 13). They gather a team together that guides the rest of the staff; team members are the sheep dogs who keep the whole group moving together. But the leader has to be the shepherd, the "keeper of the dream [and] the direction" (Brandt, 1987, p. 13).

When viewed through the dual lenses of pressure and support, the six categories of leaders' actions take on additional significance for change efforts. As suggested above, one (pressure or support) without the other will not result in implementation of new policies, practices, programs. It is the careful blending of the two, shaped to the needs of each individual implementer and delivered through the behaviors of leaders, that takes care of and promotes change.

Concluding This Section

The sixties and seventies saw the development of approaches to guide the operation and attainment of organizations' goals. That period also focused on models to guide organizational change and on strategies to disseminate new knowledge to potential users. The need for persons to supply the human interface for the implementation of new knowledge and practices became increasingly clear.

It is no great surprise that the successful school change stories of the eighties consistently featured the principal as the leader who supplied the human interface -- the support and the pressure -- for change. During that decade, however, researchers learned of other facilitative leaders (Hord, Stiegelbauer, & Hall, 1984), and the idea of a facilitative team was identified and studied (Hall & Hord, 1986). Pajak and Glickman (1989) reported studies of three school districts in which leadership came "from a variety of positions and levels" (p. 61). In one district, "prime agents" (Pajak & Glickman's terminology) were lead teachers, assistant principals, and central office staff. In another district, prime agents were central office staff, with principals playing a supporting role. In a third district (all of these efforts were targeting district-wide change), prime agents were representative teachers at various grade levels and schools, "who served on schoolwide committees coordinated by central office supervisory staff" (Pajak & Glickman, 1989, p. 63). The idea of a facilitative team (at the school level) was reinforced by the effective schools/school improvement process designs of that era, which included a leadership or school improvement team in the change strategy. This team directed, supported, guided, and represented the larger staff in the planning and implementation of school change.

This paper has described the evolving recognition of the need for leadership to facilitate change. It has given attention to the principal and the superintendent as key facilitative leaders and to the expansion of the facilitative leadership function to a team or council that includes teachers, other staff, and community members. This historical review of the past several decades provides the background for considering the role of facilitative leadership in restructuring or systemic change, which is the focus of the next section.

  Facilitative Leadership: The Imperative for Change
Revious Page Next Page
 
   
Copyright Southwest Educational Development Laboratory Credits and Acknowledgements Preface Accessiblity Icon