Glossary: M

Model building

Model building is a conceptual process used to develop models of professional practice that can subsequently be adjusted or modified on the basis of a person's knowledge culture or professional experience. In engaging in a process of change, those accompanied continuously transform and adapt their models of practice. In some respects, the models serve them as a starting point (previous knowledge) from which to approach change as they seek to understand it and take ownership thereof. Based on existing models or elements derived from existing models, accompaniment providers and those they accompany reach different conclusions about their respective professional practices. The connections they make between these observations and the professional acts they perform help them identify a model of practice (adapted from Lafortune and Deaudelin, 2001, Lafortune,2005a,b). Moving from the description of practices to analysis and model building is a challenge that requires reflective practice. At the start of the accompaniment process, it is hard for personnel to conceive of modeling their practices, let alone representing them clearly. Nor do they necessarily see the usefulness of doing so, often considering it a waste of time. Accompaniment providers can facilitate the task, both for themselves and those they accompany, by providing moments of reflection, doing feedback in readily understandable language, and regularly summing up progress in the course of the process (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008b).

Model of practice

In education, the model of practice represents in a way the education professional's vision of teaching, learning, and evaluation. In other fields, the model of practice is the vision that professionals develop of their work and of the main duties and acts they perform. When accompanying a change processes incorporating prescriptive elements, the model of practice not only includes the way the accompaniment process is represented, but also the theoretical foundations, aims and intentions of the change that have been, or are being, incorporated by accompaniment providers into their models of practice. The model guides the decisions they make and the professional acts they perform when accompanying people. In developing models of practice for accompanying change, they organize the representations, values, attitudes, and knowledge that will guide their professional conduct. They organize their model based on theoretical knowledge, but also on their own expertise (training and experience), the difficulties faced during accompaniment, and the analysis they are able to perform as a result (Cohen-Azria, Daunay, Delcambre and Lahanier-Reuter, 2007).


Modeling means being an example rather than giving examples (Lafortune and St-Pierre, 1996). It consists of providing an example in action and acting in a manner consistent with that example, modeling the behavior one seeks to obtain through the accompaniment process in the accompanied workplace and in everyday professional acts and gestures. Persons being accompanied observe the behavior of accompaniment providers. And providers implement their model of practice—in word and deed—through the way they intervene and use themselves as examples in action. By verbalizing their process in action (reflections, doubts, strategies, adjustments) or pointing out certain acts to those they accompany, accompaniment providers are “modeling.” They think aloud, ask themselves questions, announce their intentions, and justify their decisions or choices. They make their strategies visible to help foster understanding, but also to encourage other people to use them in their workplace. In addition, they help accompanied persons see how these strategies can be transferred to new accompaniment situations or used with other staff affected by a change (Raynal and Rieunnier, 1997). Modeling, therefore, is more like a demonstration of a process in action than a step-by-step procedure. For accompaniment providers, this means remaining open to changing their practices and showing they use reflective practices themselves. Modeling of this kind requires an ability to self-question, self-evaluate, and self-observe, as well as an ability to get accompanied persons to do the same. Asking others to change or reexamine their practices without showing a reciprocal willingness to do so oneself can lead to frustration and mistrust on the part of the persons being accompanied. Modeling can be a powerful tool for developing competencies used to implement change and update practices. It is a way to demonstrate coherence between thoughts and actions, and beliefs and practices. This coherence is vital for training, accompaniment, credibility, and engagement.

Ideally, model building (see glossary entry for model building) should precede modeling, because in order to “use oneself as an example,” it is best to have built a model of practice ahead of time, to be in the midst of doing so, or to have integrated at least some of the attendant professional acts by developing the appropriate competencies and knowledge culture. In reality, not all accompaniment providers have clearly defined models of practice. This can cause confusion and misunderstanding, because there may be inconsistencies or gaps between what someone thinks, what they say, and what they do by way of an example. Thanks to its reflective-interactive perspective, the accompaniment approach encourages the construction and fine-tuning of models of practice in action. By comparing and contrasting ideas, the persons being accompanied gain newfound awareness of the difference between their words and their professional acts. They can then evaluate what can be done to strengthen the links between their thoughts, words, and actions. By seeking to understand the model of practice of the accompaniment provider who is helping bring about a change, the group acts like a reflective mirror (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a,b).

Moment of reflection

Moments of reflection are periods used to activate prior knowledge, experiences, and competencies, integrate learning, and help people reflect on various aspects of change and its accompaniment. They are vital to awareness-building, the change integration process, and the development of professional competencies used in accompaniment. Moments of reflection require comfort with silence. Accepting silence and making space for it helps create moments conducive to reflection and to the emergence and exploration of new ideas. Considered responses are often more nuanced, because the underlying ideas have been pondered, weighed, and assessed before being shared with others. Encouraging people to take time to think and actively seek answers fosters reflection and helps them integrate and take ownership of a change in a way that strengthens their autonomy. Moments of reflection are necessary, but are made more meaningful if they are explained, and if participants can share what they understand with others (for further explanation, see Lafortune, 2008a,b).


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