One of the comments I keep hearing over and over again during this time goes something like, “It has been amazing to see teachers try so many things that they haven’t done before.” Some even sharing a sense of surprise in others that are now using technology.
Have you watched people try things that you were surprised they would try?
A few things I have been thinking about:
1. Change is way easier to make happen when it is the only choice.
2. Perhaps for many, there was never a direct resistance to using technology but more of an uncertainty of how the use of technology would benefit students positively?
3. Maybe people weren’t slow to change; perhaps they didn’t see the value?
We often look at why people don’t “change” and think of it as “their” problem instead of “our problem.”
Someone once shared with me, “Teachers aren’t afraid of change. They are afraid of wasting their time on something that won’t benefit kids.” That makes a lot of sense to me.
I have said this often:
You can’t make others change. You can only create the conditions where change is more likely to happen.
We cannot assume that “our way” is what is best for kids, but someone else’s methods aren’t. Many educators have been doing it “different” than others, but it has also been productive.
Using terms like “irrelevant” when talking about someone’s practice doesn’t help. Nor does suggesting the idea that “traditional” is synonymous with “bad.” That doesn’t usually start a conversation but is more likely to end it. I am guilty of both of these things and have been working hard to get better with my language.
But one thing we should learn from this crisis is that a majority of educators will do what is best for kids, even when it is insanely hard to do so. We also have to recognize that “what is best” for kids is different for each student, as could be our perception of what “best” looks like.
I have focused less on trying to “change” others and more on sharing ideas and listening to different perspectives. I believe there is a lot that others can learn from me, but I also think (and this is most important), that there is a lot that I can learn from others.
I have learned that listening and understanding the experience and perspective of others is more effective in creating those “conditions where change is more likely to happen” than simply assuming my way is the only right way.
When we go back to whatever school looks like in the future, just remember the overwhelming evidence that the majority of people will change to do what is needed to help kids.
Instead of wondering why others “won’t change,” focus more on what led to the incredible change we have seen – a focus on doing what is best for kids.
Keep that in the forefront of our conversations, and we will always be on the right track.