Education has been undergoing “reform” for as long as I can remember. With each new year comes a new buzz word, an exciting new approach to education, another “bandwagon” that teachers are expected to jump on and implement. Some of these “new” ideas, involve taking a deficit position which attempts to highlight all that is wrong with education. Change does not have to involve the view of “fixing what is broken” but instead it should be viewed as a process of honoring the past and designing a future.
It is very true that the world is changing and education needs to change with it, but how we approach this change is critical. Teachers need to hear that what they have been doing is honored, that they are doing very complex work which has been successful. The question now becomes, What can we do better? But what exactly does “better” mean? We all want to provide students with an education that is worth having. What do today’s learners need to help them be successful citizens? How can we, as educators, ensure that when students graduate,
“…(T)hey walk across the stage with dignity, purpose and options” ? (Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser)
We need to break free of the mindset of “yeah, but…” and be open to the “yeah, and…” Think about the people that you believe are the best at something, the top performers in any profession. These people that we view as the best are always striving to get better. Its not like one day they wake up and say, I am the best, so now I can sit back and relax, fold my hands, I’m done. No, they look to what they can do tomorrow to make them better than they are today.
Honoring the past means that we look at what is already working, what do we want to keep the same, what do we want to change slightly and what do we want to radically change? The scary word here though is “change”. We often hear that people don’t like change, but don’t believe that. People will embrace change, if it comes with a clear vision of why the change is occurring, if they own the change themselves and most importantly, if the change has not been imposed on them.
The next thing to consider is the risk that is associated with change. Therefore, it is obvious that people need to feel a level of trust, in order to feel safe and supported as they explore innovation. Some people will jump in with both feet, take on bigger challenges, these people believe that failure is an option. After all, we learn from failure. These people can pivot, make the necessary adjustments and start again without missing a beat. Other people like to take smaller steps, see how things worked, go with that for a while and then eventually take another small step, all the time moving forward just with a little more trepidation. Then you have the people who watch what others do, ruminate on what they see happening and will decide on their own, thank you very much, whether to join in or not.
Change should be a process and not an event.
Throughout the process we need to celebrate the successes, celebration leads to amplification which, in turn, leads to implementation. If innovation is seen as being reliable, effective and is cleanly constructed, it will be adopted.
What do you do to facilitate change?