Much of the recent literature on change recognizes that it is both an individual and an organizational phenomenon. Change affects every educator, administrator, and parent as well as the school or school system of which they are a part. This research also observes that change has a number of inherent features:
Change is a process that takes time and persistence. Early in a change, people often feel awkward, frustrated, and clumsy as they try to use new behaviors and coordinate new materials, activities, and relationships. A significant change in teaching often takes several years to master.
As individuals progress through a change process, their needs for support and assistance change.
Change efforts are effective when the change to be made is clearly defined, assistance and opportunities to collaborate are available, and administrators and policies support the change.
Most systems and institutions resist change.
Organizations that are continuously improving have ongoing mechanisms for setting goals, taking actions, assessing the results of their actions, and making adjustments.
Change is complex because it requires people to communicate with one another about complex topics in organizations that are, for the most part, large and structured (Loucks-Horsley et al., 1998).
Teaching through inquiry requires teachers to think and act in new ways, which takes the form of new skills, behaviors, instructional activities, assessment procedures, and so on. The conventional wisdom has been that changing teachers’ thinking or beliefs will produce new behaviors. Research on teacher change, however, indicates that the process often works the other way around: changes in attitudes or belief patterns often result when teachers use a new practice and see their students benefiting from it (Guskey, 1986). Thus, changes in teaching often result in new attitudes and commitment to the new approach.
In addition, how teachers think and feel about change appears to be developmental. Many studies of individuals who have changed their practice over time — both on their own initiative and when decisions to do so were made by others — have revealed that individuals go through stages in how they feel about the change (Fullan, 1991; Hall and Hord, 1987; Huberman and Miles, 1984). Many educators find the progression of stages of concern a valuable lens for facilitating change in schools (Lieberman and Miller, 1991; Joyce, 1990). Table 8-1 outlines the stages of concern about the use of a teaching practice such as inquiry that calls for a significant change in behavior (Hord et al., 1987).
By being aware of these stages in teachers and others involved in change, administrators and teacher