George Lucas Educational Foundation

Situational Leadership® II and the Resistance Model for Educators

Situational Leadership® II and the Resistance Model for Educators

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Situational Leadership® II and the Resistance Model for Educators

Our mission is to proactively and collaboratively teach, train, counsel, and empower our children and adolescents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary for them to discover and realize their optimal
personal, academic, creative, athletic, and career potentials.

In every situation in which an educator wishes to lead a child or adolescent through an insightful and empowering learning experience, that teacher must carefully observe that young person's engagement with each challenge or assignment. Child and adolescent students’ behaviors can then be assessed within one of four combinations of competence and commitment, called Development Levels. An attentive teacher will observe and then diagnose a youngster's currently demonstrated performance, or Development Level, and then respond with the most proactive of six leadership styles.

Children and adolescents are generally unaware of their learning behaviors and demonstrated Development Levels at any time, and so cannot be expected to be accountable for determining which leadership style(s) they need from their teachers This is especially so, as students continually address new learning challenges, and they experience most of their time at the first three of the four Development Levels.

So, the educators are accountable. It is up to them to diagnose their child and adolescent students’ ever changing needs and to respond with the most proactive leadership style(s). This means that a teacher must not rely on using one fixed or consistent leadership style; but rather, be flexible in providing any one of six leadership styles. Teachers will often need to use each of the six leadership styles, addressing a variety of situations and developmental needs, all in the course of just one hour!

As educators train, guide, motivate, and advise children and adolescents, it is essential and imperative that they are consistent in their use of educational leadership to ensure that youngsters’ learning needs are dependably met with the most proactive and effective leadership responses. When educators are not congruent in leadership, and some employ only one leadership style in all situations, while others employ inappropriate leadership responses, the effect on children and adolescents is to inhibit, retard, or arrest their personal development and academic learning.

Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership® II
There are four Development Levels and four matching Leadership Styles.

D1 (Development Level 1) - A child or adolescent student demonstrates low competence and high commitment, the behaviors of an "Enthusiastic Beginner."
* "This is new and challenging, and I'm eager to begin learning and growing!"
S1 Leadership Style 1) - The educator provides high direction and low support; and shows and tells the learner how, where, and when to perform new skills.
A1 (Accountability Factor 1) - The teacher is entirely Accountable for assessment, assignment, orientation, training, goal setting, decision-making, problem solving, evaluation of performance, and any necessary documentation.

D2 A child or adolescent demonstrates some competence and low commitment. During this "Disillusioned Learner" stage of development, a young person will experience predictable confusion and frustration. Many of us adults are familiar with having experienced D2 as a "sophomore slump" in college, during our first day at boot camp, a week into our first real job, or after several months of romance, marriage, or parenting a first child.
* "This is more difficult and challenging than I anticipated. I feel frustrated. Help!"
S2 The educator continues to provide structure, direction, and training. However, the temporarily diminished commitment of the D2 now requires that the teacher respond with consistent encouragement and high support.
A2 The teacher is still solely Accountable, (as in A1).

D3 A child or adolescent demonstrates moderate competence and variable commitment. This "Capable, but Cautious Performer" is close to mastering this learning challenge.
* "I'm fairly confident now; but still unsure about planning and problem-solving."
S3 The educator now provides low direction and consistent high support. The teacher collaborates with the young person, initially taking a strong lead, then becoming a partner, and eventually handing off the assignment entirely to the youngster.
A3 The teacher slowly transfers the burden of Accountability to the student.

D4 A child or adolescent demonstrates consistent high competence and high commitment in working alone as a “Self-Reliant Achiever.”
* “I know exactly what I need to do now, and how to go about it. I’ll let you know when I require any assistance, coaching, counseling, guidance, or support."
S4 The educator provides low direction and low support. The teacher's primary role now is to facilitate and provide for the child’s or adolescent's sustained independent achievement.
A4 The child or adolescent is now Accountable for partnering for performance with the teacher in order to accelerate and enhance his or her own learning abilities.

Tom Vanderbeck’s Resistance Model
There are four Resistance Factors and two proactive Leadership Responses.

R Resistance occurs when a child or adolescent student cannot or will not address an educational challenge or ably perform a complex learning assignment, and so, demonstrates no competence and no commitment (or even "anti" commitment).
When children and adolescents do not receive adequate S1 while at D1, they will quickly advance to D2. If not then provided with a structured and supportive S2, these youngsters will not move on to D3. Now, the misled youth has been set up to fail, only to fall from the developmental curve, and consequently land in the realm of Resistance.

The First Three Resistance Factors
R1 - Safety
Willful ignorance of risk, threat, and safety concerns, or clear and present dangers. Alcohol, marijuana, and drug use, DUI behind the wheel or as a passenger. Crime.
R2 - Leadership
Non-responsiveness to leadership, teaching, coaching, and/or counseling. Lies of commission and omission. Abdication of personal accountability.
R3 - Congruency
Unwillingness to follow classroom customs or obey school rules. Cheating and/or plagiarizing. Abusing trust. Being covertly dishonest. Behaving in manipulative ways.
* "I'll do things my way and in my own time, thank you. You're not the boss of me!"
MA - Mandate Accountability is the proactive leadership response to R1, R2, and R3.

Teachers imposing MA are accountable for their child and adolescent students’ compliance with school safety policies and emergency procedures, responsiveness to guidance, teaching, coaching and counseling; and following classroom customs and obeying school rules.
If a child or adolescent demonstrates any behaviors that suggest that he or she is at risk, or may somehow put others at risk, regarding R1, R2, or R3 - the educator must observe, inquire, document, and then initiate an assertive and detailed conversation with that student. The teacher must clearly communicate positive demands and expectations; as well as specifically defining negative logical consequences for failure to comply. Afterwards, that child’s or adolescent’s performance must be scrutinized closely, and also in ways that are unpredictable and random. Follow-up conversations and continuing MA are required.
MA is a very deliberate, proactive, and corrective leadership intervention that imposes control, consistent structure, high direction, low support, and close monitoring. This is extraordinarily necessary and appropriate when an at-risk child or teenager simultaneously demonstrates any two R-Factors or the triple threat of R1, R2, and R3!

The Fourth Resistance Factor
Often educators will find that child and adolescent students’ are reluctant or simply not ready to address some learning challenges or complex education assignments.
It is essential that teachers not expect children and adolescents to perform learning assignments for which they have clearly demonstrated an inability and/or unwillingness. Teachers must be realistic and pragmatic, and Temporarily Unassign youngsters from learning challenges for which they have clearly demonstrated Resistance. On occasion, a youngster will not have been properly assessed as ready for a certain learning challenge, and teachers may be wise to permanently ‘unassign’ that young person.
R4 - Unable, Befuddled, and/or Untrained
Clearly demonstrating little or no competence and/or commitment, or showing an obvious inability to perform a learning assignment (not covered in R1, R2, and R3).
* "I had high hopes at first, but now I'm completely lost; and I don't care anymore."
TU - Temporary Unassignment is the proactive leadership response to R4.

TU provides a corrective and remedial leadership intervention that provides clear direction and consistent moderate support. It allows time for proactive assessment, analysis, problem solving, and redirection to establish a fresh beginner's learning experience. The teacher must find out how the learner’s developmental needs were not accurately assessed and met; and then plan how to re-engage that student on the developmental path, most likely at D1 (orientation and training); but possibly at D2. In this circumstance, more structured and intensive S1 and S2 than usual will be required.

AR - When a child or adolescent learner demonstrates Resistance, showing little or no competence and commitment, that young person is certainly accountable for his or her own behavior. However, the educator is primarily accountable for having generated Resistance, because that teacher has failed to diagnose the developmental need(s) of the student, and to respond with the most proactive and effective leadership style(s). If the appropriate leadership styles are not provided in sequence, the result will be to inhibit, retard, or arrest the child’s or adolescent’s personal development and learning.

Naturally, the preventive remedy for Resistance is consistent use of Situational Leadership to address each child and adolescent students’ learning challenges, assess his or her developmental needs, and then provide proactive and timely structure, direction, and support. Initially, this will require assessment of current academic performance and often, testing and interviewing students. This process must be followed with S1 orientation and training, S2 coaching, transitional support at D2/3, D3 partnering for leadership, and D4 on-going monitoring, availability, and guidance.
Mastery of the methodology and skills of Self Leadership empowers youngsters to become assertively proactive in maximizing their capacities for accelerated learning, whether they are on their own or interacting with their teachers. Self led students can confidently demonstrate take-charge skills that result in leading “up” to teachers, collaboration with classmates, pride in personal accountability, and modeling positive citizenship behaviors that contribute to a cohesive and dynamic educational community.

Send an email to me if you would like a nicely-formatted, east to read, four page version of this paper.
Copyright © 2013 by Thomas James Vanderbeck /

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Comments (3) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

Hi Tom!
I studied the SL model when I did my MEd and I have to say- I found it fascinating and I use it ALL the time in my school coaching work. I'd encourage folks to check it out! Thanks for sharing!

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

As the parent of an adolescent-

Can you help me differentiate R2, 3, and 4?

For example, a bright child, we know is capable of work, decides/forgets/opts out/doesn't turn in work. In class, he's a joy, but doesn't seem to be engaging the way he should with out of class assignments. When quizzed at home, he is told there is no work or it was accomplished in study periods at school. At school, a variety of excuses are offered.

How much of this is being 15? ADHD? Lack of proper "training" in study skills and methods needed to be successful at this level? How do you then foster these skills, assuming you can get compliance with the application of new, outside "structured programs" to improve classroom performance?

Thomas James Vanderbeck's picture
Thomas James Vanderbeck
Education leadership consultant, curriculum designer, trainer, and writer.

Hi, Whitney ~
You mention a boy who is bright and capable, but not engaging in his education. Before assessing R2, R3, or R4 -- let's consider what I call the "Three 'P' Trap."
The single most important consideration in the accurate assessment of Development Levels and Resistance Factors requires that we focus on the currently demonstrated Competence and Commitment.
Beware of making assumptions as you practice assessment of D-Level and R-Factor concerning the "Three 'P' Trap" - Past, Presumed, and Potential Development Level.
Past Achievement
Presumed Mastery
Potential Expertise
One can only provide appropriate and effective Boss Leadership Responses to currently demonstrated D-Levels and R-Factors.
So, at R2, your boy is demonstrating an unwillingness to be reponsive to leadership and/or to partner for leadership with his teachers and parents.
The appropriate response is MA, or Mandate Accountability. What negative consequences and positive incentives can you impose on the boy to leverage his involvement and participation?
At R3, he is demonstrating an unwillingness to "get with the program" in school, and to be an active contributor to his own education in accord with your family values about learning. You state that he lies about having no work or having completed work in school.
Again, the appropriate response is MA, or Mandate Accountability. What negative consequences can you impose on the boy to leverage his involvement and participation?
Finally, if your boy is demonstrating R4 - unable, lost, befuddled - well, that's the time to find out if this is true or if he is playing you. Now look into ADHD and other possible hurdles to learning.
Like many teenagers, you boy may be just floating through school because he has no personal incentive to learn and to achieve decent grades, AND because he can float because there are no limits, close monitoring, or immediate consequences.
At 15, he is still in a position to have his attitude adjusted and to begin building a strong academic foundation for graduation, higher education, and scholarship(s).
I will be glad to email you some literature and worksheets to support you in this endeavor.
Later on, if you wish, we can talk on the phone.

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