Tag Archive for change

Changing Behaviors to Change Beliefs…A Personal Reflection

I recently had to give up drinking coffee due to chronic pain issues.  This was very hard for me to do, because I drank three cups of coffee a day (sometimes more).  Coffee was a staple of my life that I relied on for waking up, getting my ideas going, a pick-me up during the day, my energy when the day’s work was tiring, a stress reliever and just the comfort of a warm cup in my hand.  When students at school draw pictures of me, they often include a coffee cup in my hand!  If you, too, are a coffee drinker, then I’m sure you can imagine my reluctance to give it up.

It was not easy, but I did what I was told while dragging my feet, not believing this could possibly help my situation.  I looked for decaffeinated teas to try to trick my brain by still having a hot cup in my hand, but it was so disgusting to me it was no substitute.  On mornings after a late night I struggled to get moving, thinking, “maybe just one cup wouldn’t be so bad” but then mentally slapped my hand at the thought.  One day my self-control lacked and while on a drive to a meeting, my car was an auto-pilot and swung
through the McDonald’s drive through to get my favorite mocha frappe as I always do without even realizing it until afterwards.  I’m not one to waste money, so I drank it knowing it was a dumb idea, and later regretted it (both mentally and physically).

Why am I sharing this? Not to whine, complain or get empathy…I promise I’m done with that aspect of my story! I share this, because it made me think of teaching practices, beliefs, and change.  It is often our beliefs

that drive our teaching practices and our experience leading to changes in our beliefs that changes our practices.  But what about when a change is given to us and we don’t want it?  No matter what the change is, change is hard.

As I think about changes we have made in our building over the years, they haven’t been easy.  I recently had a conversation with a teacher in which he talked about how much he hates change and didn’t want to teach with Daily5/Cafe, but now loves teaching reading and writing.  He didn’t want to teach with our new math program, Math Expressions, but now loves it.  Why?  Because he sees the incredible impact that both have had for student learning and enjoys teaching both subjects much more now.

If change can be good, then why do we resist change so much?

Most of us want to continue with what we already know, what we are comfortable with. It is easier that way.    It is what we believe to be “right.”  I think some of my mornings could be much more enjoyable if I grabbed a cup of coffee, but then I remind myself of why I had to stop.  As a teacher, it is easy to revert back to old teaching habits or drag your feet on a new initiative, because what you are used to doing is already habit, is easy, and is what you know.  When we stick with the change and then see a positive change in student learning or student behaviors (or changes in whatever the initiative was meant to address), then we are convinced and become believers of the change.  For many of us, we need to change our behaviors to see the results that will impact our beliefs.

#ASCD13 Post: Turn the Battleship on a Dime: Keys to Initiating Sustainable Change

One of the great sessions I attended at #ASCD13 was on sustainable change led by the great Eric Sheninger, or else known as @NMHS_Principal. Eric was a phenomenal speaker and I took copious notes in his session (that includes many audience responses) as follows:

Why Change? We need to, because the world has changed, it is fundamentally different, we are in a globally connected world. How can we say we are preparing our kids to be successful to do what they want to do if we don’t allow them to use the tools that eveyrone else uses to be successful?

Why doesn’t change work?
It is done to people, no buy-in, don’t support the rpocess, always changing from one thing to the next, we give up before the learning curve is experienced, overwelmed by number of things to change.

Why has it failed in your school?
It goes against tradition, people are not given a chance to fail or take risks

Why is change so hard? People are so comfortable bc they are not challenged to think differently. Status quo, if it isn’t broke why fixt it, this too shall pass.

Why is change so hard?
Fear, void of leadership, no vision, lack of knowledge

Why is change so hard?
Instability, too many initiatives at once, resistance, one size fits all initiatives.

It’s difficult to transition a school or district if it doesn’t make sense.

It’s important to identify the obstacles
1. This is too hard
Change is not easy. Requires work, risk-taking, learnign from mistakes, and committemtn, no fear of failure. “The price of change is measured by our will and courage, our persistence, in the face of difficulty.” -Peter Block

2. I don’t have time for this
-most common excuse
-in a profession focused on making a difference in the life of a child. “I don’t find the time to learn and get better. I make the time to learn and get better.”

3. Lack of Collaboration
We already know who on our staff don’t want to collaborate. How do we get them to intrinsically want to change, becuase they might be better for kids. We can’t go to a one-size fits all approach.

4. Directives and Mandates
“You can’t force committemnt, what you can do….You nudge a little here, insprie a little there, and provide a role model. Your primary influence is the environment you create” -Peter Senge

5. Hierarchy in Schools
Result-inflexible, lack of freedom/autonomy to take risks, ideas are squashed

6. No Support
Time, resources, money, pd, etc.

7. Fear of change
How do we as colleagues, administrators help each other overcome fear and get others to want to change?

8. The Resistance (Naysayers and antagonists)

9. Poor professional development

10. Frivolous purchases
It is the beahviors/practices that make the purchases relevant and applicable.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” Zig Zigler

Change begins with us. “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Gandhi

If you are doing something because you got a grant, can it be sustained? If not, then why are you doing it?

Change often fails if there’s not shared vision, or communication of the vision.

“Let the teachers decide what they need to get better.” @NMHS_Principal

The Sustainable Changes that have been made at Eric’s School:
grading (7 criteria to fail kids)
teaching and learning web2.0
independet open courseware study
professional growth period
AP culture
social media