We live in an era of change. President Obama won his leadership with it. Our city council was reinvented for lack of it. Our School Board and Superintendent are attacked because they dare speak of it. Our country is in a medical outrage considering it. No matter where you look – change happens and reactions to such changes are as different as the leaves on the trees in fall.
Benton High School, St. Joseph School District, MO
Benton High School is in the midst of substantive change. We are moving forward as an academic institution challenging practices where data shows us we can decidedly improve. We are challenging ourselves with technology and constructivism. We are challenging our grading practices and assessments. We are challenging the very manner in which we offer education to our students and communication to our parents.
In the midst of these changes, I realized how much each individual staff member plays a part. And then, especially recently, I realized there are some staff members who are not necessarily on board with the changes. Some are open with concerns over change and open share their ideas in order to be analyzed, scrutinized, and revised or adopted by our leadership team and staff. Yet there are others on the staff who operate with covert action – defending their opposition to change based on emotional instead of rational thinking. This emotion comes in the form of loss of personal comfort, attachment to an established daily routine, or resistance to the possibility of giving up some personal power.
“Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that insanity is defined as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result (Tangredi, 2005). An organization that does not change and evolve does not improve. An organization that does not improve is doomed to fail” (Muhammad, 2009). Where do you stand in the paradigm of change? One thing we know for sure is that unless an entire team is pulling on the same end of the rope and in the same direction, movement (which I see as improvement) is not assured. As you reflect on our your department’s and our school’s journey of improvement, are you pulling with us and in the same direction as the team?
Share your story – it will inspire us all.
Images from Google Images: www.autumnwebquest.com/images/fallTree.jpg; www.allposters.com/-sp/Albert-Einstein-Poster.
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Here’s another attributed to Mr. Einstein: “I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.” ~ Albert Einstein.
I’m personally bent toward change from the beginning. I tend to get rather bored when presented with the same ol’ situations over and over again. (and sometimes even just a single repeat) I suppose that puts me in a position to crave novelty in most professional situations. Therefore, I have to be really… REALLY convinced… scientifically and statistically so, that any given strategy or procedure is worth doing over and over again.
I’m certainly aware of the potential problem this presents. It doesn’t exactly make me the most understanding person when considering the viewpoints of local nostalgists. I try to constantly remind myself that my viewpoint on change isn’t the norm. Until I made peace with this internally… I would get rather upset at even the slightest swimming against the currents of change.
The science department last year joked about creating a sort of “cuss jar” for negativity. We figured that it might be healthy to require comments of the “negative nelson” type to be followed up with a dollar per instance towards the science club’s bottom line. I wonder where that went. Perhaps we should consider such a FUNraiser schoolwide?
I love the idea of the FUNraiser. It think we could add that to the idea of staff policy where anytime a student mentions another teacher, the teacher talking to that student must make a positive comment about the teacher the student spoke of. What a great model for our students, eh?
I believe the covert actions you write about are systemic, institutionalized and therefore very hard to eradicate. Humans are selfish by nature (just watch a toddler – they have to be taught to share, they already know how to hold on to what is theirs). Any time someone steps in and takes something away from me, I become possessive,even if I’m told it’s for the good of everyone – who cares about everyone, I only care about my comfort.
As we grow older, we learn how to hide our emotions, feelings, intentions and actions, especially if we suspect others will use it against us. So here I am, looking like a respectable, compliant teacher, yet all the while I’m doing my best to foil the plans of my superiors because I believe that would be in my best interest.
Of course, why do I believe my best interests are contrary to those of others, more specifically, the administration, the district and our children? Well, most people live life as though it is a zero sum game. If I win, you lose and vice versa. Unfortunately, far too many businesses and schools have operated on this principle. For those who have been around a while, we’ve seen this principle in action before and it’s hard to believe not everyone operates this way. Even when someone says it’s a new day, well . . . “better safe than sorry.” So when new administration comes along, with a leadership team, the skeptic in me immediately begins to hatch conspiracy plans – “they are out to watch my every move” or “they are looking for any sign of disloyalty so they can bury me.” So, instead of taking my concerns to the people who might be able to get something done, I go deeper underground, causing the once-solid-ground others were standing on to shift.
We have certainly seen this in our building in the past and unfortunately, even today. People with a hidden or alternate agenda refuse to be transparent so they might be able to push through something they would like to see accomplished.
What is sad is that if people would just approach the administration honestly and openly they might find people who are willing to listen and accommodate, if possible. You know, our three current administrators didn’t take their positions because they were power hungry ego-tripping maniacs.
Of course, just because they will listen doesn’t mean they will give you what you want. But, I also learned a long time ago that they are not vindictive(at least up until this post) when you go and speak your mind.
I wonder what the motive is for someone who is being covert? There is always a motive…just as there is for being transparent. So, I have to wonder is there:
1.distrust of those who want them to be overt
2. fear of change, which stems from deep-seeded issues, which cannot be changed.
3. fear of change because there is a fear of the unknown in the workplace.
4. power and/or control issues
5. the honest belief that things don’t need to change
6. psychological issues (really, this could be true!)
7. Immaturity issues–needing to create drama in order feel happy
8. subconsious motives
9. maybe they think they are transparent
10. perpetual game players who only look out for themselves (I had a boss once who told me she didn’t have her first honest and open conversation until she was in her 30’s!) Sociopath???
I’m just very curious why. There are reasons, and maybe there is something behind those reasons that needs to be investigated further.
Shouldn’t they be asked why? Isn’t that part of moving into transparency? Should they not be held accountable on some level or should they be respected for having their opinions?
I think I ask because I move in two worlds. I’ve very honest on some levels and open myself to criticism, but on a very personal level I really don’t reveal how I feel at work very often. Because I know this about myself, I’m curious as to the motives of others, I guess!
i like this article!thanks