Saturday, July 20, 2013

The 3 Uns of Change

Change is occurring daily. It is happening by the minute, by the second. Can you see it?  Do you hear it?  Can you feel it?

Change requires movement. It is progress, and it requires activity. Are you ready?  More importantly, are you accepting of the change. 

Change is a regular occurrence in education. With the advent of each new educational concept, change is required. Acceptance is mandatory. Failure to acknowledge or accept change may result in students being unsuccessful. What worked for last year's kids may not work for this year's kids. 

I had the opportunity to attend the Texas ASCD conference in Frisco, Texas. While there, I had the opportunity to listen to Lee Crockett speak. Lee's presentation on 21st century learning and the necessity to embed technology in learning was powerful, to say the least. To drive the point further, he illustrated that the change needed in education today was one of the most imperative in our nation's history. 

When describing the reasons that this necessary change will fail to be implemented by people, he narrowed it down to the prefix, Un.  People who fail to implement change fall into one of the following Un categories:

1. Unaware
For one reason or another, people are purposely or accidentally oblivious to the fact that a change is taking place and as a result fail to adapt. To become aware, one must engage in constant search for new knowledge. Awareness requires seeking which also requires us to drop the blinders of our own experience. 

2. Unwilling
People are set in the paradigm of personal performance and refuse to accept the moral responsibility to make a change that will ultimately benefit kids. To become willing, one must commit to meeting the ever changing needs of kids; and therefore, commit to new and innovative ways that others have found more effective in helping kids learn. If one is willing to make the change, they are more committed to kids than themselves. 

3. Unable
The skills necessary for implementing change can be underdeveloped or nonexistent. If so, those wishing to make the change must commit to learn the skills of change by engaging in professional development. Ability is as much about mindset as it is anything else. If you possess a passion for learning and becoming more effective, you will discover and engage in meaningful personal development which will enable you to move with the change. 

Change is a-coming.  Change is here. By first being aware of changes taking place, we can be willing and able to go with change.  Furthermore, transforming our paradigms of stagnation into a mindset of change and regularly adapting our craft to meet the unique needs of our kids culminates awareness, willingness and ability into a perfect trinity that we call learning. 


  1. John wrote:

    Ability is as much about mindset as it is anything else.

    - - - - -

    A bit of push back here, Pal: I am "unable" to drive change in my school, district and state because I am working in a completely underfunded, dysfunctional environment. I've got a fact-centered curriculum and few (if any) resources. (Read: 1 working computer, no BYOD policy, and a photocopy quota that runs out before the school year ends).

    Worse yet, nothing that is tested -- and we have majorly high stakes tied to our tests -- is reflective of the kinds of higher level skills that I think you and Lee are referring to.

    That means I'm "unable" to drive change -- but it has nothing to do with my ability.

    The worry I have in Lee's "Un" thinking is that principals and legislators will latch onto the "unable" or "unwilling" categories to demonize teachers who question crappy policies. Those words become excuses -- reasons to point fingers instead of look inward at the barriers the system has put into place to prevent change.

    Does this make any sense?

    1. Bill,
      I totally get where you are coming from. The training I attended focused on the critical necessity to embed technology in learning. He and the conference both were quite inspiring. I also listened to several schools who were in the same high stakes world as me, but were implementing massive technological change while meeting state expectations.

      Actually, I disagree with your plight. You are not in a hopeless situation. You can be the change that you want to see for your school. I would venture to say that currently you are the change that you want to see.

      I read your blog on the problems with the high stakes focus in your state. I have those same issues with our state test. According to Covey, there are things you can directly change with your own abilities & responsibilities. There are things you can't change, but you can influence others who are directly responsible for making change. Finally, there are things you can't change no matter what you do.

      You can't change high stakes testing, but you have 100% control over the decisions of where you work, how you teach and the instructional decisions that you will make to guarantee that every kid is successful. You are able and willing to make changes to instruction to meet the 21st century needs of your students. Don't lose sight of that fact.

      You can't change the decisions that the principal or central office make, but you can definitely influence your leaders. Actually, you have a moral obligation to influence change in your school and district. As a leader, I listen to my staff because I firmly believe that they have an obligation to lead me with their insights and experiences. I would be an idiot and a poor leader for demonizing a teacher who gives me input and insights to things that are preventing them from being instructionally effective.

      Finally, I would submit that you are fully aware of the changes around you. You are wrestling with them and trying to figure out where to go from here. I challenge you not to fall into a sense of hopelessness. Instead of looking outward at the changes happening to you, look within yourself and be a model for the change that you want to see.

      I really appreciate your pushback. Your work and words inspire me and others more than you will ever know.