How do we lead change without working ourselves to death?

At Ed to Save the World, we try to recognize that leading change is kind of like a tightrope act. In order to move forward you have to strive for balance at all times. One key balancing act we all have to work on involves patience and urgency. How do we demand and push for change now while being patient with ourselves and acknowledging that transformation cannot happen overnight? Change can be tiring and difficult, especially if our urgency overwhelms our patience.

Grappling with this question and trying to balance these things, I found this piece from March of 2013 helpful. Happy Friday!


Initiative fatigue. We’ve all felt it. We attend a workshop or read a piece of research and move from excited to overwhelmed.

The aim of this website is to help educators navigate the path to transforming their practice in a comprehensive and practical way while seeking dramatic results.

Here’s a good place to start: Acknowledge that education is a discipline with a scale from novice to expert. Just like music and medicine, education requires both knowledge and experience. There is a vast pool of research and experiences of experts to draw on for our own improvement. At the same time our reality is changing rapidly so it requires innovation on top of the knowledge and experience. We want our students to become lifelong learners. Model the way. Carry a book or article, a notebook and a pen. Read, write and discuss education. Daily.

Step 2: Become aware of all the beliefs and habits that drive how you approach the work. Question everything. Ask yourself why you believe something to be true. Write it down. Discuss it with others.  Try something that challenges the belief or habit. Go back to it and refine your thinking.

Step 3: Seek understanding before judgement. My favorite professor of Political Science says, “Don’t assume you are smarter than Aristotle”. Tomorrow’s post will go through a list of false conflicts in education. If we seek understanding first we’ll save a lot of time wasted on arguing.

Step 4: Apply systems thinking. Detect patterns. Abstract larger principles. All solutions sold to us as the panacea that will solve all our problems have deeper principles that work in certain situations and in conjunction with many other factors.  Quick example: What principle is behind KWL charts, hooking students with a controversial question, and Socratic Seminars? Answer: Curiosity drives authentic learning, and curiosity is cultivated through questions. Isn’t it better to think about how you can cultivate curiosity through questioning rather than randomly applying new teaching techniques without understanding the larger principle of learning?

So, the first stage in transforming schools is to be sure the adults exhibit the behaviors of lifelong learners. We’ve developed a rubric called Adults as Learners that will help educators to reflect on where they are and help to move them up toward the expert level.

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Categories: Stage 1: Adult Learning and Leadership

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