Dealing With Change

Hold on!! The bandwagon is making another round… get ready to jump on!!

We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.

When do I just teach?

My plate is already full, what can I take off?

I don’t have time?

Whose idea was this?

I’m not doing that!

Change is inevitable in education. Right now we are going through a time of major flux, and there is no way to avoid a lot of what is going to happen. We have a lot of choices as to how we manage the things that are affecting our schools, staff and students. Already, we have to juggle many of these strategies at the same time.

There are times when we too have to say no to the newest initiative, or the great offer. I don’t think there’s a day when something in my email, regular mail, FaceBook, Twitter etc. doesn’t offer me the solution to some problem. I get offers for books, programs, speakers, workshops, and solutions to problems I didn’t know I had. I get phone calls about entertainment opportunities with an educational message. Articles I read talk about an approach someone is taking and it’s working great for them. There’s no lack of ‘great’ things to take advantage of!

When I do have opportunity to sit back and reflect on all the other possibilities that I don’t have a choice of rejecting, or are actually valuable, it isn’t easy. I still find that there are people who balk at the change that the endeavour entails. As most of us are aware, there are two main reasons for fear of change.

  1. Fear of being moved out of one’s comfort zone.
  2. The change is actually not necessary or not practical.

It is when things fall into the second category, that my job becomes more difficult. Moving people out of their comfort zone is not the easiest thing to do, but you are only dealing with one person at a time and there are strategies for moving people along. When we are dealing with impractical or nonsensical, there are more dynamics involved. The change may be imposed by a superior and my job is to become an advocate for the people working for me. The change may be the result of situations beyond anyone’s control or in the control of someone so far away from our sphere of influence that there’s not much we can do besides complain.

Sometimes the change that needs to happen is a positive thing, but in the current culture or system, it won’t fit properly. When I think about what I feel should happen with education, I know much of it cannot occur without a complete overhaul of the system. If we want more teacher autonomy, curriculum needs to be radically changed. If we want more time for collaboration and planning, we need the resources to allow for this. If we need more individualized programming for students, teachers need time and training. There’s a lot that could be changed, but there’s not enough motivation to move out of our factory model of education.

What we really need is a wholesale change, but that’s a topic for another blog.

A lot of the fear is manageable, and kudos to those that embrace it and make it work. As a person, I like change. I have been open to new ways of doing things, and as my career progressed, become more of a risk taker. Not everyone is like that. My job now, is to manage the change as much as I can.

It didn’t occur to me until this point in my writing, that the old Serenity Prayer fits for us as well.

So now, I just need to wait for the wisdom to know the difference!

Darryl Propp

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