Coaching for Change: The Science of Change

How does change occur?

Education is all about managing change. Whether you are focused on changing student achievement, teacher effectiveness, systems and structures, or something else, the likelihood that you are managing some kind of change is very high. Research bears out that managing change is complex and often frustrating.

The content included here addresses some of the ways the brain influences human behavior. Having an understanding of what influences behavior can help those who are coaching others to recognize their own habits in both thought and action, in order to create new habits that are more desirable.

Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up. James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, authors

Learning Target

I can describe what causes humans to change their behavior.

Watch: The Power of Habit

While viewing the video below, please note your responses to the following questions.

  1. How many of our daily decisions are not really decisions, but habits?
  2. Describe how the cycle of cue, routine, and reward influences human behavior.
  3. How can we teach people willpower? 
  4. Identify the cue, routine, and reward for a habit you have regarding your work as an educator.
  5. Identify the cue, routine, and reward for an instructional habit for a teacher you coach.
  6. How can a coach use the concept of cue, routine, and reward to influence teacher practice?

TEDxTeachersCollege. (2014, June 30). *The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg*. Retrieved October 7, 2015 from

Watch: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates

Watch the video below, RSA Animate: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, and reflect on the following questions:

  1. How do you currently motivate teachers to change their practice?
  2. What new thinking do you have about how to motivate teachers to change their practice?
  3. How can you increase student achievement, while providing teachers the autonomy, opportunities for mastery, and sense of purpose they need to do their best work?

The RSA. (2010, April 1). *Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us*. Retrieved October 7, 2015 from

Dig Deeper

The Neuroscience of Leadership: An article published in strategy& by Rock and Schwartz. A detailed explanation of how organizations can use brain research for transformation. 
Rewiring Adult Brains: A summary of research in David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work. 
Two Types of Change: A summary of the differences between first-order and second-order change based on Marzano’s School Leadership That Works: From Research to Results (2005).