Yet, I realize that things need to change in education. My educational ‘buckets’ probably need to change and that makes it unsettling. But, we need to change — not change for change sake, but change because we need to get better — change because we haven’t yet met the needs of every student in the system.
And for that reason alone I am prepared to move things from one ‘educational bucket’ into another one — even create new buckets if that means we end up doing things better than before.
If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve probably noticed that I’ve written several entries about the need to take risks in our system — the necessity to take a dive into a new idea. And if we fail along the way while trying, I’m perfectly OK with that. We learn from our failures even more than we do our successes. And more learning means a greater chance of improvement.
You know who’s really good at change? Children. We often don’t give them enough credit about adapting to change.
- A new sofa in the living room? Sounds good
- A different curriculum this year? Nice. Are there more field trips?
- A new swing on the playground instead of the old one? I want to try it first!
- A new teacher this semester? OK.
Even if we know that we need to make a change, why do adults often resist it?
With adults, changing the status quo can be so much more difficult. But, why? What has happened as we grow older that makes us struggle more with moving things along.
Change can be difficult. So what! We need to get over that if we are serious about being better.
I have my own thoughts on resistance to change — my own ‘hypothesis’ that is based on the already known understanding that people can be fearful of change. In fact, my hypothesis has been “scientifically” verified over years and years of personal observations and “unbiased” personal reflection.
Here it is.
Dave’s Hypothesis: Change is difficult because of the uncertainty it brings.
Children don’t have this same fear as most of their world is new to them and they are usually excited for the next event. We lose this thrill as adults. We have learned to appreciate predictability for all of its reassurances.
I have broken this concept of uncertainty into 3 FEARS:
- Fear over LOSING SOMETHING we currently have;
- Fear that we DON’T KNOW ENOUGH to be successful;
- Fear that, even if we do know enough, we WON’T BE ABLE TO ADAPT to the change.
So, how do we overcome fear? How do we find ways to move forward?
COMMUNICATE, USE DATA and WATCH YOUR TIMING
Be explicit in the reasons for the change. Share your thinking and your plans. The more that people understand the reasons for the change the greater the chance they will put their energies behind its success.
Make sure you have the data to support the reason for change — not because you need to prove your point — but because your transparency will instill trust and belief in you and your ideas. The data is the data — there’s no reason to hide it. Who knows, there may even be a better option to explore once everyone sees it.
WATCH YOUR TIMING
Change will happen if it’s timed correctly. Under appreciating the importance of this factor is likely dooming any efforts to failure. Understanding the current school context is critical — I wrote about this just recently. But, timing extends beyond understanding context. You also need to look at other things such as:
- Do you have some ‘change champions’ for your idea? People who can help propel the idea forward.
- Is there already too much on the ‘change plate’ at the moment? Is there a better time to make the change?
- Are you at the end of the school year or the beginning? Does it make a difference?
In summary, here are my three take-aways:
- Change is Necessary — We haven’t yet met every student’s needs
- Change is Difficult — Get over it!
- Change can be Scary – Minimize this by communicating, sharing data and considering context and timing
It’s time to make a difference and change things for the better.
If not you and if not now, then by whom and when?