This is the title of a presentation given by Ian Jukes and Ted McCain. And it totally got my attention. The descriptor for the presentation asked questions that I have been wrestling with recently:
Are you feeling overwhelmed with the challenge of change? Are you or your organization spinning your tires? Are you convinced that you'll never be able to help move your colleagues or institution from here to there? Why is it so difficult to change personal habits, to modify long-standing professional practices, or to help individuals and organizations beyond a fixation with the here and now? And how in the world can we possibly address the future needs of our children if we can't even get ourselves out of first gear?
When I read that, I thought of the challenges facing Alberta schools as we try to move forward while Alberta Education is still sorting out their curriculum redesign ideas. Unfortunately, this presentation was from 2006, so I was out of luck trying to access it. But I was able to learn a bit more about the presenters and their ideas.
A few of the more salient points for me, include:
"The challenge we're facing in education at this time is that educators are being asked to reconsider our fundamental assumptions about how we teach, how students learn and how that learning should be assessed...What we are being asked to do here is reconsider some of the most fundamental, traditional, embedded parts of our life experiences and our habits of mind."
"The problem is that our schools are what they used to be. So if we're going to prepare our students for their future and not just...our comfort zone, we're going to need new schools - and more than that, we need a new mindset. We need schools for the new world that awaits them. We need schools that will prepare students for their future - for life ahead of them after they leave school - for the rest of their lives."
"Change is difficult and it's very easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the changes required. But this is normal. Little has ever been understood or achieved in one blinding flash of light. The process of change is messy and doesn't happen overnight."
(Read more of this on the allthingslearning blog
When Wm. E. Hay High School in Stettler began their journey in school improvement, their research and ideas were shared with the public through a series of documents. Their Pilot Project Informational Booklet contains excerpts from Jukes and McCain's Change is Hard presentation (below).
However, not everyone agrees that changing schools is hard. Grant Lichtman visited 64 schools in 21 states, meeting with over 600 educators, to learn about the changes being made to improve schools. Grant disagrees with the ‘change is hard’ perspective. He says ‘change is uncomfortable’ and he might be right!
Some of Grant's key ideas:
- Change isn't hard...Change is uncomfortable. Change is messy. Change is chaotic. But it isn't hard. We need to get comfortable with messy.
- Schools are becoming dynamic, chaotic, messy. That’s what student ownership of learning looks like.
- A modern school is a global natural ecosystem…dynamic…permeable…adaptive…systemic…creative…self-correcting. An industrial age school is contained…controlled…predictable…scalable…repeatable…measurable.
Watch Grant Lichtman's TEDxDenverTeachers talk to be inspired!
Whether you think change is hard or uncomfortable, the bottom line is that it is time to stop talking about it and just start doing it.
This blog and resources website has been developed through the work of various AISI coaches in PHRD. The lead collaborative teachers for the 2015/2016 school year, Cheryl Frose, Christine Quong and Tammy Tkachuk will continue to update this site. If you have resources you would like to share or would like to contribute to the blog, please contact us.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.