Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sometimes There Are Good Reasons for Resisting Change

One of the most frustrating things about my last year at my old school was the problem of "change for the sake of change." I worked in a school that was excellent by any measure--test scores were up, parents were happy, students were achieving and felt safe and happy. So many of the teachers at my school were never sure why the place had to be reinvented from the ground up when our new principal came, and this feeling that changes were being made simply so the new principal could assert the new authority that came with the job never went away.

Change for the sake of change should surely be the poisonous #13 on this list of why educators resist change. Coming from a blog focused on admins, it's nice to see school leaders talking frankly about how change-resisters aren't lazy or contrarian or afraid, but often have good reasons to fight back against change. That's not to say that change-resisters are always correct or that at least some changes aren't productive and healthy. But it is to say that they don't necessarily dig their heels in for lack of work ethic or appreciation for reality.

One commenter on this post noted, of change-for-the-sake-of-change school leaders, "It doesn't really matter if the change is good or bad; what matters is that the change agents (often people using innovation to advance their careers) will soon find something new and shiny on which to fix their star." A question worth asking, when your supervisor wants to change something that you're not sure needs changing, is why this change might be happening and if the change is happening towards the latest fad. (I'm looking at you, Workshop Model!) And swapping one fad for another as a matter of ongoing policy is not good for anyone.

This subject is on my mind, I suppose, because I stay in touch with most of my colleagues from my old school on the Interwebz, and yesterday there was an onslaught of commentary from them about a particularly dispiriting day at work. What a shame, coming from such wonderful people and teachers. I can only hope that they, too, are able to resist the crushes to self-efficacy that unwarranted, baseless, and continuous change can bring. Administrators would do well to remember this, and know what their teachers are going through when yet another miracle cure for all that supposedly ails a school is promised.
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