Week 12: Consider your own context within your school and with your mentee. How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level ?

Controlled disruption? Coherence making?  I didn’t know how to address this week’s essential question, but after our Twitter session, and further reading, these phrases have  become a little more understandable.  Fullan states “Productive disturbance is likely to happen when it is guided by moral purpose” (2001)  I think we need to think of this controlled disruption as a productive disturbance.  As I mentored a teacher in my school, we had a goal of improving student learning, and one vehicle for this is to incorporate more technology in the their class.  As the teacher has not used much technology other than basic multimedia presentations, I tried to encourage the use of their interactive whiteboard in a more interactive way.  This is quite a huge disruption for them.  Through my mentoring, it was possible to allow this teacher to embrace our district’s goal of becoming a more technology-based educational system.

Kershner and McQuillan state “equilibrium and the status quo are attractive states. If system elements continue doing what they had always done, there is no transformation”. (2016)  If my mentorship to teachers didn’t occur, there would be no change to our district’s technology goals.  It’s therefore important for disequilibrium to happen within teachers in the building or district.  This not to say that disruptions are inevitable, but can be anticipated and controlled when it happens.

Bill Mulford states “a leader needs to be able to see and act on the whole, as well as on the individual elements, and the relationships among them”. (2010) I think this can relate to teacher leaders in a building and in a district, along with district leaders.  The educational system we are all a part of is seemingly complex.  I have no content expertise in my mentee’s teaching assignments, but I can see how the use of technology will benefit the system, as well as our students.  This view that what I am doing with this teacher is larger than our mentorship, is what Mulford is stating.

The last point I want to make is related to all the “top-down” strategies that seem to be put on teachers on a yearly basis.  Fullan states that there can be “negative pressure” and “positive pressure” that can be imposed on teachers in a system.  He identifies five forms of positive pressure: (2010)

  1. sense of focused urgency
  2. partnerships and peers
  3. transparency of data
  4. nonpunitive accountability
  5. irresistible synergy

This list, I think, is self-explanatory, but Fullan identifies great strategies that can be harnessed to allow change to occur in our daily lives and school climate.  Mentorships are a way to use some of these pressures to our advantage.  Gone should be the days of day-long professional development at the beginning of the year where you wonder “When am I ever going to use this in my class?!”  (I am guilty of having these thoughts.)  Mentorships should occur more often to really assist educators in the class.  I believe we have a plethora of educators are our own school, or even in our district that can positively affect each other.  Why bring “experts” from the lower 48 if we have “experts” in our own building?


Fullan, Michael. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Fullan, Michael. (2010). Positive Pressure. Second International Handbook of Educational Change – Part 1

Kershner, Brad; McQuillan, Patrick. (2016). Complex Adaptive Schools: Educational Leadership  and School Change. An International Journal of Complexity and Education  Vol. 13, No. 1

Mulford, Bill. (2010). Recent Developments in the Field of Educational Leadership: The Challenge of Complexity.  Second International Handbook of Educational Change – Part 1.



2 thoughts on “Week 12: Consider your own context within your school and with your mentee. How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level ?

  1. I completely agree that these two words, “disturbance” and “coherence making” made me slightly cringe the first time I read about them. I really didn’t understand the value or the educational definition until I started reading more about being a leader of change. Looking at all leaders in my life they weren’t just great speakers or personable, but they led the group through a time of change with confidence, perspective, and open-mindedness.


  2. I think you have a great idea to use mentorships rather than PD. I think most of us have those thoughts of when or how can I use this in my classroom. It was really positive to read your comments on your mentor project. I think the teachers that begin to embrace technology and take risks by bringing it into the classroom is amazing. Maybe then they will begin to encourage others to do the very same thing. 🙂


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