I find the most difficult challenges in my work to revolve around the deep-rooted beliefs of the educators that serve our children.
Here is a sampling of a few of the limiting beliefs which are challenging me this Fall.
After sitting in on a data-team meeting the math department chairman pulled me aside to relate his take on the team’s goal of creating a culture of continuous improvement in his school.
“We are good teachers. The fact that a lot of kids fail is not our fault. Most pass. They need to take responsibility for not passing. We don’t need to change, they do. This is the way the world is and they might as well learn that lesson, here in our school.”
After working with the technology committee to create a vision of teaching and learning with technology, I received the following comments:
“It’s a nice dream; but it will never happen here, so why waste our time on it?”
“Why do a new plan if the technology we have today isn’t live up to our expectations?”
While doing a presentation to a different technology planning committee one teacher interrupted angrily:
“I keep hearing about students. Student engagement, student access to technology, student access from home, student leadership. What’s in this for me? What will I get out of this?
Offering to help a struggling team leader who, after months of trying, is still unable to get team members to commit to a meeting date, I heard the following:
“I don’t need help with my leadership skills, I’m doing fine.”
I am not complaining about these challenges. I recognize them as legitimately held beliefs. They represent just a small sample of the many, many limiting beliefs that stand in the way of transformative change. They exist, in various forms, in your schools too.
I used to be frustrated by the lack of accountability, the cynicism, lack of vision, and mistrust that they represent. I see now that these are just human beings doing what human beings do.
Truth be told, there are areas in my life where I am out of integrity (as is the Math Department Chairman) with my beliefs about being accountable…
…and where my vision (like the teachers participating in the tech plan) shies away from the huge possibilities to stay on the safe and familiar road of smaller, sometimes less important, opportunities.
I have blind spots (as does the struggling team leader) and can sometimes get defensive when offered help by someone from whom I have not solicited it.
It is hugely important for me to begin working with each of these educators, and each of these teams, from a place of understanding and compassion rather than anger and frustration.
When I understand their beliefs,
When I work with them from a place of compassion and respect
I am much more effective in leading change.
And so the journey begins…