Questions and Changing Teaching Practice


A lot of my work with adult learners came out of research on CBAM (Concerns-Based Adoption Model) and Stages of Concern. Determining at what stage the teachers were helped me design their professional development learning plans with their help. Their questions helped me figure out how to guide them along their journey to improving their teaching practice.

  • Why do I have to change? (Awareness)
  • How can I change? (Informational)
  • What’s in it for me? (Personal)
  • How do I handle and organize all of this? (Management)
  • How will this change impact my students? (Consequence)
  • How are other teachers doing this? (Collaboration)
  • Is there a better way to do this? (Refocusing)
  • I have heard this from many teachers who feel that their current approach is just fine. I suggest observing this teacher’s techniques and their students’ results plus asking for their supervisor’s opinion. If it seems that their teaching practice needs improvement, you now have rationale why change is important.
  • If they reach this stage, teachers are overwhelmed. When they ask this question, they may be concerned about all the time it will take to add something new to their repertoire, and might fear looking foolish if they fail. This is where you can help the teacher learn how others have taken small steps in changing their methodology. You can also explain that you will be there to help them on their journey. You might even want to suggest a conference to attend.
  • Remember I just said teachers are overwhelmed. If they work in a safe, risk-free environment, then they may not ask this question. If they already have so much on their plate and are under the gun to meet specific requirements, you will need to spend time designing strategies that enhance or replace units without adding others. You also want to share how a teacher in a similar situation as theirs changed and how it impacted their teaching practice. Maybe connect the two so they can share real experiences.
  • This is a crucial stage. If your teachers take the risk and find it more overwhelming to use technology or employ cooperative grouping techniques, they may not try them again. When a teacher decides to tackle a major change in teaching technique, s/he needs hand-holding and an understanding that it is okay to take some risks. Plan on the first time to model, coach, observe, give feedback, and help the teacher reflect on what s/he learned from this experience.
  • When you ask teachers to give up control so they become more of a facilitator, where students are learning from each other and even teaching each other, you need to take on more of a coaching or mentoring role. Share examples of best practices, help the teacher design activities, and develop a strategy to collect evidence of change.
  • These teachers are ready to connect with other teachers and develop projects. Share collaborative projects and try to connect each teacher to another teacher with similar interests. The first time they develop a collaborative project, you will need to be there to catch them if they fall. This is a big step and knowing that there is someone to help them along their journey makes it a safer environment.
  • When a teacher asks this, ask them if they have an idea to make it better. Teachers are really smart and when they get to this stage, they probably have a few things up their sleeves that you may not think of. It is important to connect teachers at this stage so they can bounce ideas off of one another.

If you are interested in connecting with other teachers at the different stages, please contact me and I can give you an account to My eCoach® Online ( where collaboration is encouraged.

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