Saturday, August 21, 2010

School Leadership and "Second-Order" Change

In my last post, I considered school culture and how it provides a basis for the success of reform efforts.  When that positive culture has been established, what else does a school leader need to consider when implementing reform?

Marzano defines two types of change:  first order (incremental, everyday) change and second order (deep, sweeping) change.  In a factor analysis of multiple studies, the following responsibilities were determined to be key to second order change:

1) Knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment -- understanding what the new practices are, how they are supposed to work, the research supporting them, and how they should affect student achievement
2) Optimizer – providing a positive vision for what change could look like
3) Intellectual stimulation – fostering discussion on theory and practice among teachers
4) Change agent – encouraging teachers to challenge themselves and move beyond their comfort level
5) Monitoring/evaluating – establishing an effective feedback system
6) Flexibility – inviting multiple opinions and adapting leadership when necessary
7) Ideas/beliefs – maintaining integrity  by behaving consistently with stated values and philosophy

A leader who is implementing second order reform is going to look very different from a leader who is working on incremental change.  Second order change can be scary and uncomfortable.  The school leader has to maintain integrity of vision and help staff push past their previous limits.  At the same time, the leader has to be acutely aware of the needs of individual teachers as they progress through the change process. 

In a discussion of the Concerns-Based Adoption model, Susan Loucks-Horsley explains that professional developers “have to be facilitators, assessors, resource brokers, mediators of learning, designers, and coaches, in addition to being trainers when appropriate” (1996).  This description also applies to school leaders, who must evaluate the constantly shifting implementation process and respond thoughtfully but decisively.  The difficulty of maintaining this type of balance for the time period it takes to bring about deep change—several years—may be a factor in the failure of so many reform attempts.


Loucks-Horsley, S. (1996). The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from
Marzano, R. J., McNulty, B. A.,  Waters, T. (2005). School leadership that works: from research to results. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  


Technology In Class said...

Leaders are not just administrators anymore. The teachers that contribute to a healthy environment are leaders as well. I like how you don't focus on administrators in your post, you look beyond.

I wrote about how unprofessional the teaching profession is, if you have a moment share your thoughts too:
Teaching: The Unprofessional Profession


Lynne said...

The role of a professional developer is quite daunting--facilitators, assessors, resource brokers, mediators of learning, designers, and coaches,trainers, and let's add change agents. In addition, this multi-facedted role often occurs when resources are limited and time for training and coaching is scarce. Unfortunately, many principals don't understand the range of roles that professional developers face and overlook ensuring that conditions for successful professional development are in place.