Giant #3 Shirley Hord

Since Shirley’s passing in 2019, I have been reflecting on her influence on my professional life.  Long before we ever met, in the 80s, I was using her work, with Gene Hall, as a principal and as a staff developer.  I taught Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) for years in classes on leadership and change in several universities and professional development centers.  Learning early about the emotions of change (Stages of Concern, SoC), the behavior of change (Levels of Use, LoU), and the Innovation Configuration (IC), helped me understand, anticipate, and implement changes for the schools and me and the schools in which I worked.

As my association with the National Staff Development Council, now Learning Forward, began in the late 80s. I met Shirley in person andlearned a great deal from our many conversations over the years.  Her commitment to kids, colleagues, and communities was unmatched.  In 2005 I joined the staff at Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), and we became a colleague.  We co-authored two books on Professional Learning Communities.  I also took her authentic and formidable feedback on my punctuation and sentence structure.  She had an eagle eye and always put  her best forward. I was humbled to co-present at a pre-conference at an NSDC conference with her.

I continually learned from Shirley and her insatiable curiosity about how things got done. Andy Hargreaves wrote in his book Sustainable Leadership (p.125), that Shirley Hord was the first to identify the three dimensions of PLCs, professional – learning – communities.

My long-term connection with NSDC provided continual connections with Shirley where I continued to learn every time, we shared a meal or sat talking.  She was generous with her time and knowledge.  She remained a force well into her 80s.

I am grateful to have spent time with Shirley in her last few years.  Doug Rife was able to video Shirley and me reflecting on change, leadership, and our hopes for the future. That video is precious to me.

When she moved to Boerne, TX, Joellen Killion, Terry Morganti-Fisher, Stephanie Hirsh and I would take trips to visit, share stories, and most importantly, to tell her how much we valued her personally, professionally, and her friendship.  Joellen and I visited her a month before her passing. Shirley would tell us firmly when it was time for us to leave the visit. (those who know Shirley know what we mean).  She was never shy about stating her desires.

Thank you, Shirley, for sharing your knowledge, skills, and implementation strategies with me and so many over the years.  You made a huge difference.   Your contribution to our learning will continue to influence those in education.  You are truly a giant in the field. We are standing on your shoulders.  Rest my dear.  You deserve it.  Namaste’  Bill