Why Staff Can Be Resistant to Change
Change is a constant in our lives. New technologies, new processes, and new ways of doing things are constantly emerging. This change is not always welcomed though. Just think backto when your local supermarket rearranged the shelves.
Change, especially curriculum change, is a common event in school life. New subject guidance, a research review or change of exam board can all mean we need to alter curriculums that staff have poured time and energy into. With this in mind, when can we expect staff to welcome a new idea?
Who will adopt change and when?
The Adoption Curve, as described by Everett Rogers, is a model that can help us understand why people adopt (or resist) change. The model divides people into five categories based on their likelihood of adopting an innovation. His original names (show in brackets) are not helpful for understanding, so have been renamed:
Enthusiasts (Innovators): The first 2.5% of people in a group. The “I have to try this first!” type of teacher.
Visionaries (Early adopters): The next 13.5% of the staffroom. Those that often say, “I want to show you this great approach I found”.
Pragmatists (Early majority): The next 34% of staff. Those that like new ideas but only when their utility can be seen and understood.
Conservatives (Late majority): The next 34% of people to adopt a new idea. These are conservative with a small c, resistant until shown otherwise.
Sceptics (laggards): The final 16% of staff and the ones that can take more energy to persuade than the rest put together. This may be due to hating the idea or those where lack of experience, resources or current situation mean they cannot engage with the change. The teacher who has “that” class and does not need another item for their workload.
If you are leading a change initiative, it is important to assess and understand which groups your staff may be in. For example, you may need to provide more information and support to Conservatives and Sceptics than you do to Enthusiasts and Visionaries.
It is also important to remember that change is a process, not an event. It takes time for people to adjust to new ways of doing things. This is why we need an evidence informed method for leading and structuring our planned changes. Which is where my forthcoming book Wayfinder: Leading curriculum vision into reality will be a vital edition to your CPD
Wayfinder guides you through the foundational knowledge to be a successful leader of change. Building on this, you walk through a step-by-step model of delivering change, with classroom examples, and based upon the best research in the field.
Covering fields as diverse as design testing, overcoming resistance to change, and using coaching to support staff, Wayfinder is your indispensable guide and framework to leading curriculum change.
Wayfinder is due to be published on 25 th August 2023. You can pre-order now from John Catt and amazon. https://amzn.to/44m72Ec