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23 May Inspire Your Team, Sustain Success: A Change Management Model

By Eliza Rothstein, Rubicon International

Change is scary. It requires us to depart from the known, move towards an uncertain end and inevitably encounter a few hiccups along the way. Why do we take on the challenge? Without change, we can’t move forward as humans, or as institutions.

Luckily, effective change is far from scary. With inspirational leaders at the helm, change is inviting, it’s fun, and it’s energizing. In addition to strong leadership, sustainable change requires a guiding vision, skilled team members, individual incentives, adequate resources, and a plan of action.

Set your team up for success by following this recipe for change! The model below will help you predict potential roadblocks to success, identify current setbacks in your process, and move forward to get your team back on track to meet your goals.


We teach our students by using essential questions to guide their learning and contextualize their day-to-day tasks. As adult learners, we, too, need to know why we are engaging in a challenging endeavor. Without an understanding of why your school is mapping curriculum, teachers will get confused. Create and articulate a vision to give your team clarity.

Questions to Consider
  • What is the purpose for documenting your curriculum? Why now?
  • How does this vision fit with the school mission or philosophy?
  • Has this vision been shared with teachers, administrators, and the broader community?
  • How will we know when we’ve achieved our goal? What does “success” look like?

Take the vision one step further and reach consensus. For your vision to inspire, it must be one around which your team can rally and unify.



Individuals who feel as though they have not been properly equipped to take on a project become anxious. Support your team by ensuring that they have, or can learn, the skills to confidently bring the vision to life. We can’t expect our teaching team to master a skill after one informational training session. Give your teaching team the time and safe space to practice these skills after they’re introduced.  Have patience as they demonstrate their commitment to the change.

Questions to Consider
  • What do teachers already know about curriculum writing? Have they had any PD around it?
  • What is the technical proficiency of the team?
  • Who among your team is an expert or potential leader around curriculum?
  • What additional skills will be needed as we begin to review and revise?

Leverage the existing expertise in your team to foster teacher-leadership and encourage collaboration.



Without incentives, team members become resistant to change. Dedicated though they may be to improving student outcomes, teachers need to see tangible, personal gains from the hard work they put into this initiative. Incentives should range in scope, reinforce positive components of the work, and inspire a desire to embrace the new undertaking. How will your faculty and staff buy into and benefit from this process?

Questions to Consider
  • What will teachers gain from this work in the short term? In the long term?
  • How will you encourage teachers to begin to build robust curricula? Time? Stipends?
  • How will you express gratitude for your teachers’ hard work?
  • What benefits will the leadership team get from embarking on this project?  

Build celebrations for milestones into your strategic plan! When will moments of encouragement be needed the most?



When teachers aren’t given the resources they need to do good work, they become frustrated. What’s the scarcest resource of all? Time. Teachers often find themselves overburdened, unable to give adequate attention to their various responsibilities. Prioritize mapping by supporting your teachers with time, access to information, and structure. Listen to their needs so that they become comfortable with this change.

Questions to Consider
  • How and when are teachers expected to integrate this work into their busy schedules?
  • What exemplary material will you share with your team?
  • How will you encourage a culture of coaching and mentoring?
  • What avenues are available for your team to ask questions and offer feedback?

Create an “Intro to Curriculum Mapping” process for new teachers that includes tutorial material and periodic check-ins for support.



Give teachers a sense of what to expect over the next few years. Without a roadmap, teachers feel lost. When this happens during the initial phase of change, the lack of direction leads to numerous false starts. Avoid these traps and work toward continued progress with a multi-year plan. The plan should include measurable, actionable first steps to demonstrate immediate gains for the team.

Questions to Consider
  • Where do we hope to be in one year? Two? Five?
  • Who will be involved, and at what stage of the timeline?
  • What systems are in place to act on progress and curriculum review results?
  • Beyond major milestones, when will teachers have time to use Atlas? PLCs? Early Release?

Include in your action plan how and when you will communicate with your team regarding milestones, risks, next steps, progress.


We do not expect to “finish” our curriculum, and we must not expect that we will “finish” the work of managing change. As teachers, there is always room to revise and improve our practice to ensure that our students receive the best instruction possible. As leaders, it is our job to stay mindful of our teams’ emotions and needs, and revisit this change management protocol. This requires flexibility and patience, but it is well worth the team-wide success.

Learn how we can support your school’s change management process by visiting our page here, or email us at pd@rubicon.com!

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