We have all heard it before: Change is hard. It hurts (sometimes). And, change places lots of tension on our schools and organizations. What is interesting is that it isn’t really necessarily about “change” at all; it’s more about what is attached to “change” that we often don’t acknowledge. If we view change as an illness (for those who don’t want to change much of anything in our schools), perhaps we need to look at the symptoms of change before we judge anyone of not being open to new ideas or improvement. Here are some symptoms that come up time and time again within our schools. See if you notice any of these symptoms within your system, as well:
1. There are too many initiatives (things) going on. Too many software programs. Too many literacy directives. Too many new books coming in. Too many e-mails explaining what we didn’t do yet or what we need to do next. This is a huge symptom of “change illness.”
2. There isn’t enough training (or thorough training). When #1 is going on, training often falls by the wayside, as well. They are connected. The problem with the lack of training is that now frustration sets in. Frustration of not knowing what to do with something “new.” Have you established a solid training program that will diminish frustration?
3. There isn’t enough time. Our educators have lives. They have families. They have outside interests. So, what they accomplish in school is often high energy. High octane. Exhausting. We need to always remember this. Life comes first. Jobs and careers come second. If a teacher cannot attend something after school, it doesn’t mean that they are disengaged. Maybe they have to pick up their child from school or run to the grocery store in order to put dinner on the table that night.
4. There isn’t enough enthusiasm. How do we get anyone excited about anything? There is power in creating exciting opportunities, forums, and collaborations. When we fail to promote, market, or even show excitement about something, ourselves, how can we blame anyone else for not being on board when all we are doing is making them bored about a topic or initiative? Turning educators off from the start will lead to “change illness.”
5. Educators just want to enjoy our students (a good thing). “Less is more,” especially when we recognize the requests we make for additional paperwork, new requirements, more deadlines, intricate forms to fill out, or an increase in meetings that take staff away from their instructional time and enjoyment with their students. Before we pile more on the plates of our educators, we have to "Spring Clean" a bit, re-focus, stop the clutter, and breathe.
These 5 root causes of “change illness” should be on our minds each day and it’s OK to have open dialogue about these symptoms in order to evaluate if what you want to change is really worth it for both your students and staff. You don't want an overload of symptoms to lead to serious organizational illness.