Food for Thought on Meaningful Change

October 17, 2016

 

We have got to move beyond the familiar if we want to create meaningful change for our students. But how?!? To truly think differently about core processes of teaching and learning we have got to stop playing it safe. 

 

I was driving home from one of our school’s movie nights and my daughter and I were chatting about her upcoming birthday. Our family has a tradition where the birthday person gets to select where we’ll go out to eat as a family, and what dessert will be. (The anticipation and dialogue leading up to the actual birthday dinner is half the fun.)

 

As my daughter was reflecting on what her dessert options were, I encouraged her to think bigger than the traditional dessert staples like Brownie Bites at Applebee’s or frozen treats from our family’s favorite ice-cream parlor. This shifted our conversation to pie, exploring different candy stores, and a couple other innovative ideas.    

 

Suddenly our dialogue came to a screeching halt. My daughter offered a rhetorical question that was difficult for me to counter…

 

“What if the new pie place is a complete bust?”

 

She went on to say, “I’d rather go somewhere I know is going to be good. We can always try pie on a daddy date later on.”

 

I don’t think it’s too big of stretch to compare her aversion to “dessert risk-taking” to risk-taking in our schools. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but here are a few questions that might be food for thought:

 

  • How might subtle changes in thinking lead to deeper learning and relevance for the students we serve?

 

  • Is the reason that we are slow to change linked to the familiarity with current processes and pedagogy?

 

  • Perhaps innovation feels unattainable because we do not understand it yet.

 

  • Finally, how can we move beyond the notion that meaningful change and innovation are inherently linked to technology and big budgets??

 

Change is as simple as agreeing to think differently, taking a risk, and doing differently. Innovation doesn’t have to be a big step…it just has to be a step. Your “baby step” might be the modeling and encouragement that a colleague needs to get started on their journey towards meaningful change.

 

And in the case of my daughter…if her first step towards “dessert risk-taking” warrants a daddy date to a new pie shop…count me in. 

 

If you’re looking for practical “how to” ideas on implementing meaningful change, you might like my new book, Renegade Leadership, available HERE.

 

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Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 

 

Connect on email at:

AdjustingCourse@gmail.com

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