Change Your Theory

To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time reading this article. I sat down to try to read it five different times. It felt very jargon-y, nonspecific, and like there was some prior information I was missing as he referred to various terms.

Keep that in mind as I answer these questions.

What preconceptions or misconceptions about leadership and change did you find yourself questioning questioning from the Fullan article?

As I was reading this, I did not feel a tremendous amount questioning as I was reading this article. When discussing the section on Flawed Change Theories, I could easily find examples of times in my career when I have experienced less than ideal standards based district wide reform and professional learning communities that felt like the wheels were spinning. The third example of a flawed change theory (hire the best to succeed) might be the one that I have never experienced. On all of the hiring committees I have been on, I have never been guided by looking for the candidate with the most successful looking resume, but rather a personality that cliques with the group (maybe this is a Vermont thing?). As a person who tends to see how things can continuously be improved, maybe I am more of a skeptic than others on this matter, but I did not disagree with any of his claims about the flaws of that type of change theory.

Which part of the change theory article has the most potential to have impact in the change you are considering as your PITCH (see Pitch assignment below).

The part that resonated most with me is that people need to be motivated in order for a change to succeed. The change project that I think I would like to focus on for this project has to do, again, with our new PLP system. For us to have a successful PLP process, students need to submit work to an online portfolio to act as evidence for attaining proficiency in various transferrable skills (that sentence was rife with jargon. I apologize.) Teachers will be the ones that need to guide the students through this technical process. As I was reading the article, I kept thinking about what would be the motivating factor that would make teachers own this new change.

Would it be the fact that the lesson that they spent hours creating, editing, tweaking, and testing would be housed somewhere permanently and not crumpled in a backpack?


Could it be that that the teacher could showcase something that they created that would demonstrate to the student/parents/future teachers a student’s understanding of a difficult topic?

Who knows?

For all of you reading this, what would motivate you to coach your students to digitally archive the projects and assessments that you assign?


9 thoughts on “Change Your Theory

  1. When I read your statement “For us to have a successful PLP process, students need to submit work to an online portfolio to act as evidence for attaining proficiency in various transferrable skills” I did not find it jargonny but instead found it to be a concise summary of your change project. As someone who was doing this with students in the late 90’s, it is interesting to watch a whole state move towards a state of ‘compliance’ with Act 77. For me the “feeling’ was easy to find – once I saw the pride students had in their eportfolio when they took it to job interviews and to college admission interviews or to competitions, I knew the process was worth it and it was my job to help them get excited about the process. Back then it was the ‘Vital results’ instead of “transferrable skills” .

    I still remember a bank Vice president say to me “Lucie, I can always tell when your students come in for an interview. They sit there with their portfolio on their lap and they KNOW themselves, because they KNOW what’s inside. They sometimes don’t even open the portfolio but they are talking about the artifacts inside in a natural confidence way. That’s the target! (not the portfolio itself). I think we need more example of what that looks like for teachers – because until you have experienced it, its hard to lead students to that state.


  2. I would be motivated to help students create portfolios because I know it’s the right thing to do. By the “right thing,” I mean that it’s the same way many professionals build their reputations–by showing what they can do. Not only does it build confidence, it also necessitates reflection–the importance of which was noted by Fullan in reference to John Dewey: “This goes back to Dewey, who offered the insight that it is not that we learn by doing but that we learn by thinking about what we are doing (p.10).


    • Students already have portfolios, and a place to build them (in advisory typically). Teachers have already (mostly) bought into this as it has been around for several years. The change is that I want teachers to make is to make this a part of their classroom routine. It’s a big ask because it feels like yet another thing that is being added on for teachers to manage without having taken anything away.

      I’ve also found that I can’t rely on the students to be motivated to do this. In my classes this year, I offered students extra credit to see if that would entice them to upload a stats report that we did in class to their portfolios. About 10% did. Normally they jump at any extra credit assignment, but not this one.


  3. I find the idea of the “classroom conversation” between what a teacher plans and where a student takes it to be a compelling reason to want to archive both in a portfolio, especially in a PBL classroom. I thought your change pitch made that point nicely! Students can look back and think about what they did, compare how they did different things differently, and study and reflect on their own growth. The portfolio is a living document of their learning journey. I know our students love sharing online work with parents…there is a “cool” factor to it, at least still in K-6!


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