20 Comments

  1. Curriculum, technology, materials, buildings, funding, timetables, calendars, class sizes – these all will change, but does inspiring learning ever change? The rock we should build our system on is the idea that we will ALWAYS be there to create an environment that motivates our students to WANT to learn. Everything else can, and more than likely will, change. We should welcome that, its part of progress, but we should always be driven by the fundamental goal of our job which is to create eager and able lifelong learners.

    • George

      Awesome thoughts Jesse. I have seen so much growth in your thinking since we have first met and I am thinking that you are on to something for a possible blog post? Thanks for your comment.

  2. The best piece of advice was given to me by my favourite teacher when I got into teaching. I asked her how she kept her teaching energy up all the way into her late 50's – her response was: change every few years. Throughout her career, she taught everything from high school home ec and social studies to elementary library to special ed and First Nation Studies. I have listened to her advice and always challenged myself by teaching at a variety of levels and changing every few years. We risk getting comfortable and growing less by staying where we are at. We need to take risks and try new things! As a principal, I get to try many different roles and this helps me to understand the challenges at each level.

    I thank my favourite teacher, my mother, for showing me the importance of change and the drive for learning that can result from this. George, thanks for the reminder.

    How do we encourage this change in schools?

  3. Well said, and something that has always been (opinion) the biggest irony in education. The biggest barrier to change in education often proves to be…..us! The adults. Students thrive on change, they want a learning environment that is dynamic, they can move from one modality to the next without missing a beat, and in fact dread it when we stay with one method of instruction, no matter how interesting it was for them at the start. Yet in many instances (with more exceptions coming, we hope) the adults are horrified by a change of anything ranging from a block change during the week, to a new marks program, to a different seating arrangement at a faculty meeting…never mind a completely new way of thinking in education. This is why the "knowing-doing gap" always haunts me–we know what it is that we are supposed to do, but often we are reluctant to change to do it.

    Change has always been and will always be the only thing that does not change.

    • Mary Beth

      I really don't have anything to add except that agree wholeheartedly with everything that's already been said. I too have taught a multitude of grade levels, and I thrive on the change. I also agree that children love change and enjoy doing new and different things in a new and different way. However, a lot of teachers are resistant to change and that's who you have to convince. How one presents a change is really important, but unfortunately it seems like you'll always have some resistance. It's definitely a conundrum.

      • George

        The "why" of change is essential and you hit that nail on the head. Change for change sake means nothing. Thanks for your comment MB :)

    • George

      You hit the nail on the head Cale! Your last sentence is so true and summarizes what I believe.

      Thanks again for your comment and your fantastic blog post today!

  4. Great blog post, George! Over the past couple of years especially, I've done a lot of thinking about "change." It's funny because as a teacher, I like routine, but that being said, I'm one that's always willing to change. I try one thing, get excited about it, and keep trying something new. This kind of sums up my experience with using Web 2.0 tools in education: I only started using these tools shortly over a year ago, and now, I can't imagine not using these tools in my teaching. I embraced change, and I'm glad that I did. I'm also glad that I modelled for my students the importance of being willing to "change" too.

    Last year, I taught Grade 1 for the first time after 8 years of teaching Kindergarten, and I asked for this change, but it was still a hard one to make. I found though that my reading about Grade 1, going to observe other Grade 1 teachers in action, and talking to numerous educators about Grade 1, I was able to adjust well to this change. For me, it was about giving "structure" to "change." This year, after teaching Grade 1 for a month, I found out that I was going to become a 1/2 split. I approached this change the same way that I approached the last one, and that helped a lot.

    The hard thing was helping my students adjust to this change. It really was all in the approach. I had to lose 11 students after a month of teaching them, and this was hard. I was sad to see them go, but I didn't tell them this. I told these students that they were so lucky to be moving across the hall and getting an amazing new teacher, and this approach helped them adjust to this change. I had a student teacher at the time, and she asked me if I was sad to see my students go, and I explained that I was, but that my job is to make them feel comfortable no matter what classroom they're in. That's why I had to approach things the way that I did. I applauded the parents that did the same thing too.

    Change can be hard, but I think that how we approach it, makes all the difference. I know that I'm a better teacher now because of all of the changes that I've gone through. Your blog post definitely reminded me about the importance of "change."

    Aviva

    • George

      You show such great fundamentals in your teaching and practice. Embodying that you are willing to change and grow in your profession is being a great role model to your school and students. Thanks so much for your thoughts :) I appreciate all that you write!

      • Thanks George! I appreciate all that you're willing to share. What you write about in your blogs and tweet about on Twitter has really helped me change a lot over the past year … and definitely for the better! Thank you for inspiring me to change!

        Aviva

  5. i think you are spot on here George. change is the constant. learning is change, it's messy, it's innovation. becoming one with that change – should be our standard.

    Hagel and Brown and Davison in the power of pull use these words.. knowledge stock vs knowledge flow.. we need to be swimming in that flow. in that network – that community, in that organism. these are all live things… we can't help but be constantly changing.

    i think our only standard of measure could/should be – what did you learn today. i think too many don't even notice/note anything new on a daily basis.

    you ask…How do we balance change while also improving our practice? If we change too much, can we ever truly become experts in any area?

    i think expecting the unexpected every day is the only way to become expert… at anything. from marketing to brain surgery. within your field, knowing what to do when you don't know what to do will make you expert. if we shy from changes.. from the edge.. we'll never gain that expertise.. that cure. we might be really good… but we won't be the best we could be.

    an expert has to be always changing.. or he stagnates – and in my opinion is no longer expert. i'm wondering how one could truly improve practice without change.

    we all need to see each other struggling at the edge – daily.

    good to note.. mandated changes.. seldom reflect what we're talking about here.

    thanks George. i love how you're always thinking about things that matter.

    • George

      I appreciate your comments Monika! I agree that if we are experts, we need to be continuously growing. When we don't, does that not give ammo to the argument that "anyone" can teach? You are right about mandated changes as well. It has to be purposeful and have meaning.

      Thanks for your comment Monika! Keep doing great things for education :)

  6. The only constant in the universe is change, said my differential equations professor. And he was correct. I feel that improving practice means balancing change. Of course, to change something in your practice means to admit that something isn't working to capacity. I would feel like I'm not "working hard enough" unless I'm optimizing. I've just switched to reverse instruction, and it took me a long time to do it. The students really appreciate it when they see people who care, take a risk; they really enjoy it when that risk pays off. I feel energized when I learn something new, and it transfers to them. Now with this new system it actually brings more time for everything else involved in learning when we are all together. Just love it. Although, one does need time to have enough experience to make that judgement call. So we need enough time for constant things, and then an opportunity/support to change. I feel that order is critical, or both could be barriers to growth. For example, weight training: shock the muscle, but then rest to rebuild. Need the perfect blend of balance and change.

    • George

      I loved how you used the weight training analogy :) When we do the same thing, even with a routine using weights, you just get use to it and lose any growth. Same logic goes for the brain.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  7. Debbie Barnes

    Change often challenges us and I believe that challenge is what causes us to grow. Leading others (parents and/or teachers) to be more accepting of change is easier said than done, but I agree it is our job to model how to be flexible and roll with our changing world. If we stay in one place long enough to become an expert I think we will probably miss lots of great opportunities for new exciting learning experiences.

  8. Ian Chia

    Hi George and others,

    I posted a response to George's related query:

    http://gcouros.com/true-0

    True?

    "One of the major negatives is that change is rarely welcome. People tend to like the status quo and do not want the apple cart overturned"

    and the above posts again demonstrate to me that educators aren't reluctant to change. Think back 4 to 5 years – would this kind of discourse be occurring between educators on a blog or twitter?

    My comment to George's question earlier question is that perhaps it's not so much change that's hard, but how the change is implemented. http://gcouros.com/true-0 gives a couple of examples where widespread change within education happens with open arms – I think the truer question is innovating "enticing" ways to spread change within the structural system of schooling.

    Best,

    – Ian

  9. There is no growth without change, but not all change results in growth. Change that is imposed can be difficult, though it is sometimes necessary. Change that I have initiated or see a direct purpose behind is engaging. Change that is based on meeting needs is powerful.

  10. As a computer teacher I live in a world of constant change. Just this year we switched to Office 2010 from Office 2003. I am always aware that what I teach a middle school student now, will be outdated in less then 2-3 years. I try to teach students how change is something that will always happen, but that does not mean your prior knowledge is obsolete. In the beginning of the school year I go through a list of (almost) every piece of software I have learned and/or used. I then talk about how I use the obsolete knowledge to understand the new software in front of me.

    Part of education is teaching students how to adapt and use change. And the only way to do so, is to be open to it yourself!

  11. I can certainly see the jumps in reason you make, I am not specific of just how you seem to connect your suggestions which inturn aid to make the actual final result. For now I shall subscribe to your point but trust within the near future you in fact connect your dots considerably far better.

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