You cannot control what happens. You can only control how you react to what happens.
While this message is fundamentally true, the fact of the matter is, when change happens, many of us respond in a manner that is not always complimentary to our characters. I speak from personal experience.
Let me introduce myself:
Hi. My name is Terrilyn. I am an over-planner and an over-thinker. Change usually frightens me.
This year, I have had to really face many changes full on. Concerning our scope of work, we all have. The Shelby County School District has put forth several large-scale changes, one of the largest being the introduction of the new curriculum. We understand the reason - putting a Tier 1 curriculum before our students will bring about greater outcomes in student learning- but facing the changes we are required to in order to learn and implement this curriculum with fidelity can be overwhelming. One of the greatest deterrents to accepting change is an unhealthy mindset.
So, how should we react when faced with changes?
Not like this. Seriously.
Three ways to address change:
- Face It: One way to prepare ourselves for change is to first recognize it is happening. We cannot allow the stress and anxiety of upcoming change to force us into frustration or even worse, inactivity. Think about how this change can best benefit you and begin looking for opportunities within the change to grow. Whether it is positive or negative, being realistic about what’s coming is smart. This leads us to our next point:
- Prepare for It: The moment you know a change is coming your way, make plans to address it. For instance, as a Literacy Advisor, I serve a specific grade band: K-8. Once my fellow Literacy Advisor and I found out we were assigned to a zone whose grade band spanned nine grades, we immediately began gathering resources and reading the texts. We had to know the nuances of the curriculum and the texts in order to serve the schools in our zone. The Math counterpart on our team has spent countless hours studying and working problems in the new Math curriculum as well.
- Seek Support: As educators, we can often find ourselves working in a vacuum. We become “laser-focused” on wanting to move our students and wanting to support our teachers and school leaders. But many hands make light work. It is important to seek help when changes are imminent and even while they are occurring. The great part about being in this field is that we can avail ourselves of the best resources - our colleagues. Collaboration is a key component to the work we all are doing this year. In order to be successful with the new changes in the district, working together has to happen. This year, I am supporting elementary grades within the K-8 grade band. To do this with success, it is necessary that I reach out to elementary advisors for support with learning the new curriculum and supporting teachers. By conferring with the experts, I can confidently adapt to any changes I face with learning new content.
Remember: You cannot control what happens. You can only control how you react to what happens. Whether in your career or personal life, the above adage applies across the board when it comes to dealing with change. Facing it, preparing for it and getting support as you adapt is pivotal to developing a healthy mindset for change.