As a principal, I had the fantastic opportunity to observe teaching and learning daily. Truly the best experience is to watch educators Grow Minds, Open Doors, and help Create the Future. In this role, I was also allowed to support and coach teachers as they worked to find the “next right answers” to ensure they met ALL of their students’ individual needs. Sometimes this meant that I needed to be that mirror to reflect on while dealing with new strategies and changes in education.
During the pandemic, as the University Supervisor, I had the opportunity to coach, mentor, and observe educators as they worked to implement a variety of strategies in their effort to continue to teach our youth. The past year and a half were probably one of the most challenging experiences for many educators. Jumping into the world of online/distance learning at a minute’s notice was not something any educator dreamed would be part of their career. Yet like the true heroes they are, they met the challenges and made sure students were being taught in whatever method/mode possible! And, with each day, they just got better at their jobs, and the students more resilient and smarter too!
Change is actually a constant in education. It is necessary if educators are going to be able to prepare students for the future. The information highway is moving quickly. As educators, knowing what is important to teach students, implementing it, and teaching it is part of the job. Yet to do that requires being in a continuous learning mode, which results in changing “how business is done” to provide excellence in education for ALL students. Therefore making the job very demanding and challenging.
For teachers, changes in the “what” we are teaching in education requires them to stop and take time to reflect upon their own personal “why” and core values. In many ways, these changes in the “what” require a profoundly deeper look within ourselves first.
In Simon Sinek’s groundbreaking book, “Start With Why” (S.S. 2009), the Why statement helps to articulate your purpose, not just to others, but to yourself as well. If you really want to change and create real change in your school, it begins with each person being grounded in the “why” of their decisions. Educators need to know why they are doing what they are doing. They need to live it and share it with others. Then the “why” becomes part of the school’s vision and mission. Having an understanding of your purpose and vision for the future allows for real change.
As educators move forward into the 2021-2022 school year, the opportunity to create positive changes based upon many things learned during the pandemic is ahead of them. The past year and a half were probably one of the most challenging experiences for many educators. Jumping into the world of online/distance learning at a minute’s notice was not something any educator dreamed would be part of their career. Yet like the true heroes they are, they met the challenges and made sure students were being taught in whatever method/mode possible! And, with each day, they just got better at their jobs and the students more resilient and smarter too!
For leaders, it is important to understand that with change comes the psychological impact. Change triggers emotions making it often messy and inefficient if not handled appropriately. Leaders need to focus on the emotional impact that change causes for staff. Therefore allowing staff to be involved in the process, provide input, and have a voice helps mediate concerns. Understanding that change is not an event but rather a process, giving people time, offering choice and exploring options, and providing the place for questions and answers along the change process and transition. Leaders that communicate are open and honest about the change and are supportive during the transition create an atmosphere where staff feels safe, comfortable, and able to take the risk with something new without fear of failure.
CHANGE after the PANDEMIC means creating a NEW NORMAL by taking what works and letting go of the past. Time to look to tomorrow as an opportunity and possibility to Open Doors again for Collaboration between Educators; Grow New Ideas for the benefit of students, and Create a Kinder, more Compassionate Future for ALL.