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Sunday, 1 January 2017

How can Change Management be Enhanced by Reflective Practices?

"Change is the essence of life: be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become" - Reinhold Neibuhr 

Over Christmas, I was asked by friends what the New Year had in store for me as a professional? My response was considered; however, vague. Unlike other years where my role and direction was very clear, this year was totally different. This year is one where major changes are about to happen for my team and I. It is a time where many of our practices formed over years of working in silo's were going to be torn down as we move into a new facility designed for team teaching with a minimum of 5 teachers and over 100 students. This change will force countless amounts of unknown practical transformations along with major pedagogical shifts in us individually as professionals by removing our ability to hide our professional practice behind walls away from each other. 

While this could be seen as a scary step, I find myself exhilarated by the prospects and possibilities of increased accountability and peer support. Where collegial trust is high and care beyond the classroom becomes an important feature of our professional culture; however, this means some things will need to change and grow to maximise the potential for students and for us as teachers.

Now, for most of us when the word "change" is mentioned we are distressed; however, we don't be afraid of the word change; it just means that you stop doing some things you've been doing and start doing some things you haven't been doing. For example, stop thinking negative thoughts and start thinking positively, stop settling in your comfort zone and step out of the boat, stop procrastinating and start taking the opportunities that arise.

We know that staying motionless and keeping the things the same is not an option, this brings stagnation and ultimately atrophy. It's also true to say it's not enough to just wish for something different and hope that the modifications to our situation will just fall in our laps. To navigate change well we need to have personal leadership, leading from the inside out.  We need to decide to actively accept and develop so that we can possess positive outcomes of the change that is happening so that we can bless our students. 
One of the most important things we can learn in the early days of teaching in this new facility paradigm is how to be still and become increasingly reflective. I believe that one of the significant reasons so many of us are burned out and stress levels are so high is that we don't know how to be still and identify what practices we do hold the greatest levels of effectiveness. The more I observe people the more I see us running from one thing to the next, being over scheduled and over-worked. This feeling of stress could be easy to achieve in such an active environment; however, it should be avoided. 
Reflection helps us to put setbacks behind us and acknowledge that we are not a failure because we tried new things and they don't work out. We fail only when we stop trying. By recovering quickly from failure, pressing on and trying new iterations of the endevour we become more effective and pertinent as professionals. 
In learning to be quiet on the inside and stay in that peaceful state so that we can become our best selves identifying the key elements of our pedagogy and practice that create the greatest impacts on our student's learning. 
The desired outcome of this reflective practice in the collaborative environment is that we'll slow down and be ready to respond. We identify our teaching strengths by finding something we like to do and do it well. Having the courage to be different but encouraging and embracing the uniqueness of each other’s practice. This will assist us to learn to cope with criticism and accountability by establishing a culture of trust. In having enough confidence in who we are as a professional, we can listen to others and be open to adapt without the feeling of having to agree with their viewpoint to attain their approval.
So in short, my response was as a leader, I must lead myself to stay effective. I become more effective by being reflective which reduces my schedule as I focus on the actions I do well and adapt the ones that don't. Encouraging the "learning to be REAL, Relevant, Engaging, Authentic & Lasting" - Eric Sheninger.
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