Understanding Resistance to Change
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Can you recall a time when you worked with a group of educators and one or more seemed resistant to the ideas you were sharing? Encountering educators that are resistant to change is a common challenge for many teacher leaders and math coaches and it is easy to slip into an unproductive “us versus them” frame of mind when working with them. However, when we take time to identify and understand the root of the resistance, we are in a better position to support our colleagues through any change initiative.
For the last year, I have been working to understand why change in education is particularly difficult for some people and how we can best support them. I am excited to present on these ideas at many national conferences and I would like to share my resources with you so you can take part in the same learning. Feel free to reach out to me with questions, ideas, and requests. Thanks.
The Switch Framework
The book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard is by far the best resource for understanding change. If you know me, then you know I love analogies and metaphors. It is how I see the world and how I try to bring meaning to my work with teachers. Their analogy of the rider and the elephant is a great way for us to think about what is happening in our brains whenever a change situation is upon us. The first short video by one of the authors of Switch will explain the framework. The second video is a more in-depth overview of the framework.
Chip and Dan Heath provide a number of free resources you can use to help you implement the ideas from Switch in your setting. I highly encourage you to check them out. The Switch for Organizations Workbook and the Switch Framework are particularly helpful.
The Five Whys
Taiichi Ohno, former Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, developed the Five Whys method of root cause analysis. He asked his staff to ask “why’ 5 times about any problem they encountered. The idea is that you eventually get down to the root systemic cause behind the problem. We can use the same strategy in the math education world to better understand why our change efforts are not working or why we are encountering resistant behavior from particular teachers. Here a Five Whys worksheet I created that you could use. Just be careful to avoid having this exercise become the “Five Blames”. You are looking for systemic issues, not people problems.