Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Change Process and the Shut Down

Here's a thought to all the change advocates here talking about the #iowacore  and #iowareformation.   Do you remember the number one law of the change process?   Change is SCARY.  It's a paradigm shift.   It's messy.

There are definitely strong voices on the Iowa Tweet Line.   Many of you are 30 somethings in the midst of being digital pioneers and I am all for it!!   Let me hear your ideas.   But from what I've heard privately and from direct tweets offline in the last two weeks, I have a suggestion...don't let your ideas get in the way of your network building.

Here is the thing that bothers me, at least a little.  I've been a personal user of twitter for years, but the value of using it for personal development this year seemed to be a good idea.  I've heard lots of suggestions.  Still, just because I bring up a counter-point does not mean that I am against your idea; I'm not a cynic,  in fact, I'm probably as big a cheerleader in this whole process as you are.  But with a few years experience in the training arena, I have lost some naivete.   I'm a realist, I've been through many of these innovations once already, and I have some questions.  Blithely shutting them down does not mean that they go away.   And for people perhaps less-passionate and/or stubborn than myself, it slams the door on what should be a constant conversation.

Assessment, including formative and summative?   It's been in Iowa since 1995, when the first Stiggins' institutes were held.  Mastery education and SBAR?   I've been through it three times, in three Districts, starting with the OBE philosophy of a previous Branstad administration.  Cell phones in the classroom?  I gave my first presentation on it three years ago.  Inquiry and project-based learning have been around as long as Dewey and are standards in my own classroom.

This type of experience is available to you from a wealth of--ahem--mid-career professionals who have seen the promise of what you propose, but still have another 15-20 years in the classroom.  And they are just starting to come on Twitter--as settlers, not as pioneers.  So here's what I'd suggest.   The next time someone asks you a question and you want to respond immediately with an answer that resembles  "we don't need that type of stakeholder, because there are many of us who do want change," stop and think.   Try responding instead with a comment like,   "that's a good point to to keep in mind" or "how did your system handle that problem?"

In the end, we don't want to stop change because of the cynics, the "stay-at-homes" or the "rocks-in-the-river," but we also need to develop a rich conversation with the teachers of Iowa.  Our work is too important for our children not to do so.

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