Evolution and Moving Forward

It’s uplifting to me, that collectively, we are looking toward the development of a new BC Graduation program. It’s a process that won’t be necessarily easy; it will take time, a shift in resources and how we approach the way we currently do things. Perhaps we look to how we structure our schools, school days and our own time. These details will be a work in progress and will evolve. But evolve they must – We see kids everyday whom are struggling with the current Grad Program requirements, which tells us that parts of it may not be working. So if evolving parts of the system is going to help our students, we must create ways to make it happen.

Of course with any change, even positive moves forward, there are challenges. As leaders we need to help people move forward; have conversations with them so that they understand we are invested in them because their co-creation in this new program is essential. Actions always speak louder than words so it is our role to help find time so that they continue the conversations we have started with them. We cannot change our practice without work, time commitment, and sometimes shifting priorities. What’s important to keep in mind is that we are trying to evolve because it is good for kids. And for me, that’s a good thing!

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Change Process

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.Winston Churchill

This quote is relevant as we talk about education, schools and best practice for learning. We know that there are great things happening in our schools every day and it’s important to celebrate these successes; but it is equally important to embrace the notion that we can always make things better moving forward.

I’ve written previously about change and the inherent challenges. What’s interesting is how a completely different form of change I’m currently experiencing is so vastly different from my previous experiences and yet the process hasn’t gotten much easier – it feels the same. Perhaps what’s emerged for me then, is a better understanding of the emotional stages that change brings.

There are likely hundreds of theories on change and I certainly don’t think what I have here is anything new or earth shattering.  My editor/critic (wife) assures me of this! My observation is that there appears to be four main stages that people move through during change. These four stages seem to occur no matter how much lead-time or pre planning is put into place.

1)    The Introduction – the idea is introduced and there are two groups who emerge: early embracers, and a group in denial wanting to protect “the way we have always done it”. Sometimes in this latter category are those who verbalize support, but cling to old ideas and ways through their actions.

2)    Reality of Change – the reality of change pushes people into a state of active resistance or acceptance. In my experience those resisting are far more visible and vocal than those who are waiting out this phase of disruption. The longer in this stage the less likely it is that change will stick.

3)    Acceptance – people realize that change is happening and they begin to stop thinking of the old ways and what is lost. This could be the longest stage and may not have everyone 100% on board.

4)    Production – Once the majority of people have accepted change, we can begin to see the positive gains that were envisioned back during the introduction stage (and usually some unintended gains as well!).

The process can be rocky.  During, conversations can be difficult. My current Principal has taught me that as Administrators, if we can’t hear the word “no” then the word “yes” is meaningless. She is very wise and this is a meaningful phrase. So I’ll repeat and hope some of you pause for thought – ‘if we can’t hear the word “no”, then the word “yes” is meaningless’.

When working through conversations that begin with “No”, “I can’t” or “I won’t” and even the non-verbal cues that are telling us ‘no’, it’s important to remember that someone is working through one of the stages above and we need to work with them wherever they may be along that continuum, not necessarily where we want them to be.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.Winston Churchill