Changing Change?

“Change is such hard work.” -Billy Crystalc&c

Change, in the name of raising student achievement, is a constant in the field of education.  The work of the instructional coach is often closely tied to change and reform.  Goldring (2002) states that “studies of schools involved in reform intended to raise student achievement have concluded that the culture of a school is more powerful than any formal aspect of leadership” (p. 33).   It is the powerful nature of culture and its impact on real-world results that makes understanding the role of culture in the process of change so essential to instructional coaches who are working to plan and implement organizational changes in public schools.

Locke and Guglielmino (2006) also discuss the importance of understanding culture with respect to organizational change, “The relationship between organizational culture and planned organizational change is well established; change theorists assert that efforts to bring about significant change without addressing the organization’s culture will be futile” (p.109).

Noted instructional coaching expert, Jim Knight (2009) acknowledges the possibility of the strong culture of teachers derailing a planned change effort, but turns the idea from one of blame into an essential question:

“When efforts to improve student learning fail, teachers often end up being blamed.  Teachers were resistant to new ideas, say the leaders who were working with them.  Rather than blame teachers and ask, “Why do teachers resist?” perhaps those of us who lead change should ask, “What can we do to makes it easier for teachers to implement new practices?” (p. 509)

So the question is, “As coaches, what can we do?” Leave a comment below and join the conversation! In the meantime, a word of encouragement… “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead


Goldring, L. (2002). The power of school culture.  Leadership, November/December.

Knight, J. (2009, March). What can we do about teacher resistance? Phi Delta Kappan,         90(7), 508-513.

Locke, M.G. & Guglielmino, L. (October 2006).  The influence of subcultures on         planned change in a community college.  Community College Review, 34(2) 108- 127.

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