There are two ways change can happen in relation to an innovation or curriculum. These two changes are slow/minor change and fast or/major change.
Slow/minor change is change that is not significant or that takes place over a long period of time. Examples include changing unit plans, using a new instructional approach, or adjusting assignments for students. A rollout in increments of a new curriculum instead of all at once is another example.
Major/fast change is change that is significant or that happens suddenly. Examples include a new law that requires immediate compliance, or the immediate introduction of an innovation (such as computers) into every classroom. This type of change lives many gasping for breath as they struggle with what is new.
Few people like change. When dealing with curriculum implementation, there are five guidelines to keep in mind as explained below. These guidelines come from Warren Bennis (1966).
Guidelines for Change
- Innovation needs to be based on research
- Many great ideas are great because of marketing and not scientific research. Whatever the plan is it must be based on data that indicates that the idea will help students. In other words, read between the lines before implementing curriculum change.
- Some innovations require changes in the structure of the school
- The new innovation may require an overhaul of day-to-day behavior. A simple example would be the time that a school I worked at added art to the curriculum. It involved removing a study period from the schedule that was replaced with the art class. This allowed the students to learn art as well as get to know a new teacher.
- Change must be manageable
- This means that the new idea must be possible. For example, require students to write essays in English when they do not yet know the language is not manageable.
- Implementation must be flexible
- There is always a disconnect between theory and practice. Heavy-handed implementation of the innovation strictly only leads to passive resistance. An adaptive approach in which the teachers can make minor adjustments to meet student needs is critical to success.
- Have a plan for measuring implementation
- Change must be assessed to make sure things are happening. To just tell teachers to do something without stipulating how the results will be analyzed is unfair to the teachers as they do not know how they will be graded. A teacher could never do this to a student.
These principles can help teachers and administrators to implement changes to the curriculum efficiently. They are intending as guidelines and not rules and there is so much more that could be said about this matter.