Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Transform Teaching With the Diffusion of Innovation

Effective teaching is a continual work in progress. As educators, we adapt our practice each year to a new group of students, each of whom brings a unique blend of strengths, challenges, and experiences to learning. We adopt new curricula and apply new standards and mandates. We are always on the lookout for new approaches and strategies demonstrated by educational research to work in the classroom.

But all these changes can be hard. For example, adopting a new approach may require changes to lessons, new forms of assessing and monitoring student performance, more substantial consultation with colleagues, and adaptation of strategies to make continuous improvements. As teachers, we are willing to invest the time and effort required to change our practice if we clearly foresee the benefits of that change.

 The Social Mechanics of Change

For decades, social scientists have been studying how change happens, and you may find the implications of that research useful in endeavors to implement transformational teaching changes in your school with colleagues, administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. A central theory that describes the pace and path of acceptance of new ideas and innovations was put forth by Everett Rogers (PDF). Rogers described how the diffusion of innovation takes place in a social system as people undergo a five-step process to assess the impact of change on their work and lives:

  1. In the knowledge step, they become aware of a new idea and begin to develop their understanding of the function of this innovation.
  2. People are then persuaded to form either a favorable or unfavorable attitude about this change.
  3. They decide whether to adopt or reject the innovation.
  4. They implement the new idea.
  5. They confirm their decision by evaluating the results of the implementation.

Read the full post at Edutopia.

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