Implementing Change

In order to lead others in the learning shifts in this website, it is essential that leaders, whether formal or informal, become familiar with change management models to strategically plan for these changes. Traditional practices are incredibly hard to break, and remember that the change has to start with the leader first.

Consider the following change management models:

Prosci’s ADKAR Model – This is a link to a website that describes the Prosci five step model that proposes important building blocks for successful change.

Explaining Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model – A video explaining John Kotter’s change model.

Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail – This Harvard Business Review article by John Kotter’s shares his model for managing change and describes some pitfalls that might befall an organization.

Our Iceberg is Melting – An entertaining and educational video of a cartoon analogy of Kotter’s change model (authored by Kotter himself).

Reflecting on the current status of your school, which aspects of these change models do you believe will be the most challenging? What questions/concerns do you have about the change process in implementing Mastery Learning and Grading school-wide? Please respond in the comments below.


273 thoughts on “Implementing Change

  1. Mersedeh Vahdat says:

    The article, Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, addresses my concern at our school and many other comprehensive public schools. Comprehensive campuses need a cultural shift as an learning institute. Lack of consistency, accountability, unifying standards of discipline policies, ethical behaviors, and positive attitude may hinder our implementation of mastery learning and grading. There has to be on-going communication among stakeholders to establish a sense of urgency in revamping our grading system to reduce anxiety, stress, apathy, helplessness, discontent, frustration, and drop out rate with the support from our leaders. I hope that administrators go through this training to assist us with the cultural transformation strategies and short-term goals. This way, we are all on the same page; otherwise, one bad decision at the top of our organization can undermine our hard work of implementing the mastery learning and grading system next year. I remain hopeful!


  2. Hermine says:

    In Prosci Adkar’s article he lists 5 vital steps for change. In my current school one of the hardest steps to overcome will be desire then I would have to say ability. Desire would be difficult to overcome because many of the teachers have taught for so many years and are deeply rooted in their ways. Ability would be difficult a difficult step as well because if there isn’t enough support and guidance by mentors or coaches it would be very easy for teachers to give up and go back to their old ways. Time and the right tools must also be available otherwise it can be very frustrating.


  3. C Davis says:

    Since I am new to my school it is had for me to have an accurate reading on the current status with aspect to change. I think the biggest challenge will be to communicating to all stack holders what the impact will be for them. How will it look for teachers? students? parents? and administration? The campus is small and frequent changes go on with enrollment during the beginning of each quarter. I think Mastery Learning and Grading would be a good change for the school, but more importantly the students, who are our clientele. I am excited to begin the process of implementation of Mastery Learning and Grading.


  4. Anna C says:

    Looking at Prosci ADKAR Model of implementing change using five steps plan, ability is the most challenging one. It states in the article, “Ability is the stage in an individual’s change process where the change actually occurs. Ability is defined by an individual demonstrating the required changes such that overall expected performance results are achieved.” This step involves practice, time, coaching, access to the right tools, and feedback. As an elementary school teacher, I feel that an ongoing coaching, feedback, and access to the the right tools is necessary to practice the implementation of mastery learning and grading in the classroom.


  5. Eda Munoz says:

    “The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result.” I like the idea of Mastery Learning. I feel that it will bring a welcomed change to my teaching. I am hopeful. Having said that, the district is what it is. There should be a more sense of urgency across the district for mastery learning, but there is not. Not only that, but say that by chance, there would be a district-wide integration of this learning system, what happens to the students once they reach college? Back to the percent system? I’ve been a part of the district for almost 10 years and I always see resistance to change…always. So, the most difficult part of the change model would be leading it. It bursts bubbles. But if I start it at my school, maybe I can start a trend?


  6. Bertha Banuelos says:

    The reading Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail by John P. Kotter sums my thoughts about leading change in a district school. The first line in the reading says, “Guiding change may be the ultimate test of a leader—no business survives over the long term if it can’t reinvent itself. But, human nature being what it is, fundamental change is often resisted mightily by the people it most affects: those in the trenches of the business. Thus, leading change is both absolutely essential and incredibly difficult.” I have observed that change is difficult, especially with a very active union. This is my second third year with the district and I have never seen teachers that are unwilling to change for student and school improvement. The steps that will be taken to implement the changes for mastery learning will have to take place with our administrators and carefully filtered to our school sites.


  7. Julia Villagran says:

    Over the past 5 years my school has gone through a significant amount of change. Now, we have a significant amount of teachers, counselors, outside personal, and administrators who are willing to work together and embrace change. For now, mastery grading is optional at our school. Everyone who is involved are excited to implement mastery grading including myself. I am very fortunate to work at a school with positive people who want the best for our students and care. I have no other questions at this time.


  8. Robert Kelemen says:

    The Mastery grading approach is similar to my current instructional practices. In my moderate/severe AUT SDC class I use modified curriculum based on the students individual learning goals. I typically have to adapt the particular subject to each student and teach in smaller basic portions. Because some students require more time to achieve mastery, I allow more time by breaking up the subject or skill. I foresee it being difficult to explain mastery grading to colleagues who have not attended the trainings and have not read the material.


  9. Katrina M. says:

    The climate at my school, like any school, is very mixed. Some teachers want to continue doing what they’ve always done. Some teachers are open to change, and some are actively looking for better ways of doing things. My principal seems to be very progressive and up to date with LAUSDs latest programs so I don’t think there will be a problem. However, certain colleagues are unwilling to make changes. This makes collaborating hard.


  10. Janet Herrera says:

    I am looking forward to implementing mastery learning grading and I feel fortunate to be at a school that embraces change. It’s all about the students and to me that is my sense of urgency. I will find challenging working with teachers that have not yet received this training because sometimes we need support from colleagues when there’s a new adoption.


  11. Erika Martinez says:

    In implementing mastery learning grading how do I determine a grade for every 4 weeks and how does that translate to their final grade? How will this grading look like in a roll book?


  12. Judith De Cordova says:

    One challenge I see is that Principals will not be positively motivating to convince teachers to begin using the master learning. I think my principal would agree with this new grading practice but she would need to find a group of teachers who truly believe in the new grading program.


  13. Marco V. says:

    A challenge I face at my school when it comes to advancing mastery grading to other staff members is the fact we work with students with moderate to severe disabilities. Students cognitive abilities vary so greatly that teacher are forced to teach some of the most basic life skills to their students. Simplly put, standards are modified due to these students limited skills that impact their ability to access grade level education.


  14. Harold Luizaga says:

    I think an aspect of the change model that would be challenging would be Communicating the Change Vision. In the past many of the district changes were just mandated. Teachers were not allowed to express their opinions. They were just expected to comply. This step could be done
    by friendly two-way communication among peers. I do not think a proclamation would work.
    I believe Empowering Employees could be successful if it is defined as giving teachers professional discretion to apply what they have learned as it seems fit. This has to be presented as a tool not as a burden and the teacher should have discretion on how they use their tools.


  15. G. Cruz says:

    The most challenging aspect for us will be establishing a sense of urgency. We as an elementary school don’t see yet a lot of the problems that junior and high schools face. Our school is not doing badly but we are always trying to improve our instruction in other ways. Another concern might be in developing and communicating the Change Vision; Mastery learning implementation may take a lot of time and this might be an objection of the staff.


  16. KMarx says:

    At my school, we have done some professional development on Growth Mindset and dipped our toes into the idea of a 4 point scale/grading for learning. But I don’t know what the level of urgency is (Step 1). Teachers were open to the ideas, but one of the main obstacles is that we are trying to implement several changes in our core classes all at once. The English department will be trying out a brand new curriculum and all of the core classes are going to be required to keep both interactive notebooks (for the subject) and Leadership notebooks (for reflections, progress and data). Changing our grading system on top of that is going to be very challenging. I’m not sure how many new ideas teachers are willing to take on at once without facing burnout (or a nervous breakdown). I think removing obstacles (Step 5) is going to be essential for our school. I’m not sure what that would look like exactly, but providing as much planning time as possible for teachers and providing a clear vision of the changes being implemented would be helpful.

    Another concern I have is consistent implementation. I don’t want to be the only teacher at my school to change my grading system. It needs to be school-wide. Otherwise, parents and students will be confused if some teachers use the Mastery Learning and Grading model, while other teachers are using traditional percentage/points grading. I would anticipate many unhappy parents if there is no consistency. School administrators could help by providing informational meetings for parents when the school as a whole adopts this change so that they understand the new model.


  17. Leyla says:

    Reflecting on this shift, I find it challenging to implement mastery learning and grading. First, this change should start at college level because 12th grade students need to have letter grades in their transcripts. Second, it was mentioned in 4D that 9th and 12th grades grading system should be different. This inconsistency will create a problem for high school teachers teaching both grades and for parents who have kids in both grades because they will be graded differently. Lastly, if a school adapts Mastery Learning, new teachers, parents, students and office personal should be trained to do it so everyone is aware of the grading system.


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