This week’s topic: Resistance to change is rife among educators, how do you combat this?
Resistance to change is common in any profession. Change is hard for most. I think that’s why we interchange risk-taking with making change. Change, by nature, is a risk. We like comfort.
But, we cannot judge or criticize those who are less accustomed to change. The more we judge them, the less apt to change we are. To be a change-maker also means to be accepting of others’ uniquenesses & own “quirks.” A teacher who still uses transparencies and overhead projectors is not to be judged. In fact, they are what makes education diverse.
We can help them take personal risks, though. We cannot determine what risks they should be making nor what steps they should be taking. For instance, even though a teacher may still be using outdated PowerPoint as a traditional PowerPoint, it is not our place to say they should be using another tool instead. Rather, we must encourage them to find the strategy (not tool) that improves learning in their classroom. That may not look like what we envisioned. Change-makers must also be flexible. You must be accepting of all types of changes – even if they are not the change you envisioned.
That said, when I work with educators who fit the stereotypical traditional teacher model, I remember that being traditional does not, by itself, make them ineffective. What makes an educator ineffective is assuming they know all the answers – they know what’s best for others. I ask them what they want to do – even it is simple by most standards. It is a change. It is a risk. A few weeks back, I had a teacher want to learn to use Skype for personal uses. She had no desire to use it in class at the time. I refrained from preaching to her all the reasons Google Hangouts and Skype are awesome classroom resources. Instead, I did what she asked. I held her hand through it the first time. When she went to do her first Skype with her daughter, I sat with her at the beginning. She made mistakes. She was confident enough then to fix her mistakes. After her first Skype, she told me that she thought this would be an awesome classroom tool. She wanted me to come back and help her get it set up for a class. Though I could have told her that in the beginning, I let her discover it herself.
Patience. Patience. Patience. Do not judge. Do not make changes for others. Be accepting of others’ changes.
Using students to help start change is also highly effective. My teachers will sit down to students, but are not always willing to sit down in a professional development workshop. Our student tech team holds thirty minute trainings on Tuesday mornings for educators at our school. Teachers can come and go as they please. The catch: students pick the topics they train based upon what they think educators need. This little twist is perfect for creating change. Most educators want students to be happy. They want students to improve. They want to help students.
The recipe for success: students, patience, non-judgment. Rinse and repeat over and over. Once one has made a change, recognize it and build that person up. Let them spread that change to others.