A Journey Through Technology

Week 12: How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level ?

on April 14, 2017

This week deals with controlled disruption and coherence making and their impact on peer leadership. To start, this really gets me thinking about my context at my school. I am one of the youngest teachers at my high school, which means I have had a very different teaching experience over my 7 years than most of the other teachers I work with. There have been a variety of changes that have happened in education while all of us have been teaching, but I only have a limited grasp of what those changes have been. Some changes have been for the better, while others have not, but still these teachers have persevered. I will say, that many teachers are so tired of the “latest and greatest” thing, that they are often not willing to give new ideas a chance. I see myself as a person who can help other teachers adapt to new changes and help them find the right way to use them in their classroom, based on their needs. Looking more at controlled disruption and coherence making will help me become even more effective as a leader with my peers.

According to Fullan, “…persistent coherence is a dangerous thing.” (2001, p.108) I think of this as a constant lack of change. Everyone gets comfortable where they are, and there is no move towards making any changes. An educational example of this would be teachers using the same lessons from year to year. They get comfortable with what they know, and don’t like to mess with what works. But this doesn’t allow for new or improved lessons to be developed or used. Students could be missing out on possible results from disrupting the flow.

In schools, persistent coherence is usually not an issue at the surface. “In schools…the main problem is not the absence of innovations but the presence of too many disconnected, episodic, piecemeal, superficially adorned projects.” (Fullan, 2001, p.109) this is where disruption comes in. In the 7 years I’ve been in the classroom, I have seen so many different policies and tools presented to teachers, often so close together you barely have a chance to get the hang of one before you have to start using the next. But this is not the kind of disturbance we need to lead through change. We need productive disturbance. “Effective leadership means guiding people through the differences and, indeed, enabling differences to surface.” (Fullan, 2001, p.114) These disturbances are necessary to allow for coherence making, which can help leaders bring their team together to work for a productive solution.

I founds a list of 7 Tips for Leading Your Peers, which I think fits in well with the concepts of controlled disturbance and coherence making. “Having a collaborative spirit helps immensely when you discover that your idea may not be the best idea. As a team player, it’s important to recognize where you can add value when you let your idea go and let the best idea win.” (The John Maxwell Company, 2013) One of my main takeaways from controlled disturbance and coherence making is that it isn’t always the leader that comes up with the best solution. To be a good leader of my peers, I need to work with them to find solutions to the problems we face, whether they result from a controlled disturbance or we already know about them.

Based on my context at school, and my experience being a mentor this semester, I see myself as becoming an informal teacher leader. These “emerge spontaneously and organically from the teacher ranks. Instead of being selected, they take the initiative to address a problem or institute a new program. They have no positional authority; their influence stems from the respect they command from their colleagues through their expertise and practice.” (Danielson, 2007) I hope that I will have the expertise and ability to earn respect from my colleagues as an effective educational leader, not only for the positive impact I could have on my colleagues, but also for the positive impact it could have on the students. “Research shows that when teachers are empowered to function as autonomous professionals and leaders, this builds a sense of professional confidence and pride that feeds effective teaching practice.” (Berry, et. al, 2010)


Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., Wiedner, A. (2010) Teacher Leadership: Leading the Way to Effective Teaching and Learning. Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED509719.pdf

Danielson, C. (2007) The Many Faces of Leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430

The John Maxwell Company. (2013) 7 Tips for Leading Your Peers. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/7-tips-for-leading-your-peers


3 responses to “Week 12: How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level ?

  1. Tristan Leiter says:

    I have always been the youngest teacher at my school until this year and it’s so nice to feel like I actually have some experience now and am not just the baby of the group (literally how I felt at my last school). I agree that many teachers are comfortable with where they are, the lesson worked with this group of kids, so let’s save it for next year. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves. I try to never teach the same lesson the same way each year, unless I know the students learn the same way as a previous class did. I try to come up with new activities because I feel like if we don’t we just get stuck in that rut and there are so many new and exciting lessons that are being created all the time relating to the concepts we are teaching.

    I have seen a lot of policies and tools presented to teachers, sometimes close together and sometimes not, but I’ve also seen something introduced and after a few days they decide to throw it out and try something new, before even giving it time to see if it works because all of the sudden whoever is making decisions likes something else better. Things take time to really integrate and we can’t be expected to completely change everything in the classroom overnight.


  2. unicyclepro says:

    I’m not a “young” teacher by no means, but I have similar feelings as you. I have seen veteran teachers teach the same way, for years, not changing their lesson plans, or assignments, or assessments. How could you not?! I think the thing that changes the most in school is the students, and we need to constantly modify our teaching methods and practices to accommodate these varying students year after year. I’m sure you all get tired of my saying that I don’t understand why my math colleagues don’t get onboard with technology. First, they are great teachers, and have great personalities, and are liked by most students. But it doesn’t make sense to not modify your assessments, at least. They seem to have files full of worksheets and assignments, and assessments that date at least 10 years. They just pull one at a moments notice when it is needed, but I feel there is something missing when we don’t try to make learning more personal for the students. I guess I’m trying to say that not all veteran teachers are the same, and some do get inspiration from new teachers!


  3. Larissa Sivertsen says:

    I enjoyed reading your insight about the differing perspectives of “young” teachers and teachers that have been teaching long enough to see drastic school reform. I have been a teacher for 4 years and have also noticed that veteran teachers are less optimistic about change…and often for good reason! It’s great to get their perspectives because I find myself going with the flow all too often, when maybe I should be more questioning. At the same time I also notice that they’re usually a bit jaded and less flexible about change because the change is often forced.


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