Sunday, January 24, 2016

9 Reasons Every Educator Should Embrace Change



I've been reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. The book is fantastic. It goes in-depth explaining the how and why of innovation in education. It makes a compelling case for the power of innovation to improve schools. The book got me thinking about why educators need to embrace change. As I've learned from Couros, it's possible for every educator to be an innovator.

Innovation requires a willingness to look at problems with new eyes, and to see challenges as opportunities. Students are going to need skills for their future beyond the academic achievement goals that have been the overwhelming focus of the past. To help students be future ready, schools will need to help students become adaptable learners.

Schools need to help students develop leadership skills. They must be global citizens and understand how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. They need to solve complex problem, work in teams, communicate effectively, and have digital skills. We need to make creativity a top priority. But the only way schools will meet the demands of the changing world around us is to innovate and embrace change.

If you still aren't convinced, here are nine reasons educators should embrace change. 

1. Change is inevitable. It isn't productive to resist it, because it is impossible to avoid. Change will happen. When you embrace it, you can influence the direction and outcomes of the change. Change either happens to you, or you take ownership of it. Most of us become comfortable with things the way they are, even though everything around us may be changing. The only way we can provide schooling that is relevant is to accept change and learn and grow.

2. You can make a difference. Some people resist change because they believe it won't matter anyway. But your efforts to embrace change will create better learning opportunities for students. Believe in your ability to use change to make a positive impact.

3. Growth means risk. You can't grow without risking something. We stay with what's familiar because we are comfortable with it, but that's not progress. We need to have a growth mindset. When we take this approach, we thrive on taking risks and trying things that aren't a sure thing. We want to take risks. When we fail, it's not fatal. It's just proof we are trying.

4. You can't expect to do the same thing and get different results. Most every teacher is not entirely satisfied with how students are learning. Most see problems with student motivation or engagement. Is it reasonable to think these issues will improve without changing teaching or education? Change and innovation are necessary to solve the problems we see in our schools.

5. Giving up "good" can help you find "great." As Jim Collins pointed out, good is the enemy of great. It is hard to embrace change when things are going well. My test scores are good. I'm a respected teacher. Our school is a shining star in our community. When things are going well, it's harder to see the need for change. But we should never be satisfied. We should always seek ways to improve learning for our students.

6. New opportunities are waiting. Letting go is hard. It can be very difficult to put aside the things that we find most comfortable. But when you step out of comfort zone, there is potential for incredible fulfillment and reward. We stand to gain so much for our students and for our own personal fulfillment. Innovation and change starts with a belief that there might be a better way. We have to believe these opportunities await.

7. Personal preferences can be harmful. Some people resist change because of their personal preferences. Even if they see an idea has the potential to improve things for students and learning, they may not embrace it because it makes them uncomfortable. It's not what they prefer. Educators cannot afford this mindset. You must be flexible in your state of mind and welcome any opportunity that can move education forward.

8. Your students need to see adaptability. You have the opportunity to model change and innovation for your students. When you are innovative in the classroom, students are more likely to become adaptable, innovative learners. These skills will serve them well. We can't expect students to be innovative unless educators are first willing to be innovative.

9. Leaders embrace change. Effective leaders embrace change and help others embrace change too. Whether you have a formal leadership position or not, your school needs leaders who are problem solvers and who are willing to try new things. Every person can be a leader. Your words and actions can help positive change occur in your school.

Question: How will you embrace change in your classroom or school? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or share on Twitter or Facebook.
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