This post stems from the thoughts of @gcouros
' most recent post Is Change the True Barrier?
Change has been and will be for the foreseeable future the most
pressing issue in our schools, our communities, and in our society as a
whole. George's question was simple: What is holding us back...is
"change" at the heart of the problem, or is it the process leading up to
the "change" that is really holding us back? Most people who will be
reading this will be educators, and consequently I have included 5 ways
to encourage other educators to embrace fundamental change in an
1) - Ask lots of questions...then listen and don't talk...
Change is not easy. Change is even more difficult if you have no idea
where your colleagues or staff are in terms of their willingness to
evolve and transform. Go on a question rampage and find out as much as
you can about your colleagues and staff. Once you have an idea of where
they are, you can then begin to formulate an action plan. It is
imperative that you use this step to empower and encourage collaboration
through discussion (remember, the discussion is one sided - they talk,
2) - Have a goal...but expect it to change...
We all want what is best for kids...some are just willing to do more
than others (this is a reality - both in schools and in the
"real-world"). Have an idea and an action plan on what change you would
like to implement. Just as important as having a starting place, it is
crucial you accept the fact that your action plan will be forced
to change. If your original plan is what you end up with in the end,
most likely your change is superficial and not well-rooted in the staff
and your colleagues. "Real" change can start with you, but it must end
3) - Find that one person (or group) who will fight change to the death...
We all know who this person or group is...they exist in every school,
and whether you agree or not, they do and can serve an important
purpose. I challenge you to utilize this person or group and encourage
them to fight your plan tooth and nail. This can be a gamble, but let
them know what change you would like, and ask them why it won't work
most importantly, give them an audience! Give this person or group the
opportunity to tell everyone why your plan to help students won't work.
Force this person or group to think and reflect about why the plan won't
work, and then hope they flip to your side and become your greatest
asset and ally...If this works you are golden...risk big to win big
(aren't the kiddos worth it?)
4) - Support and encourage the baby steps...
By this stage you are hopefully beginning to see some small sparks (as
long as "that" person or group didn't completely extinguish the flame).
Continue to encourage and support these small sparks, no matter how
small or faint they may be. Treat each small spark as you would a new
born baby...tending to its every need and desire. Your new roll is now
that of a mother and a cheerleader at the same time...good luck!
5) - Remove the training-wheels and let them ride...
Your first job was to initiate change, and once the change has started,
your new job is to get out of the way. Drop your pom poms and let the
change run its course and allow your colleagues or staff to take the
autonomy for doing what is best for kids. They are professionals, and if
you want this change to stick and be truly fundamental change it needs
to be in their hands. If you made it this far it is time to back off!
I encourage you to leave feedback and comments so I can add to the list.
I would also like to thank George Couros for the inspiration. Also,
thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully this will help you
both at the classroom or building level...remember, teachers are just
bigger and older kids...