Change the Sense of Urgency

This morning as I was walking the dog, I flipped through Freakonomics radio and tuned into “How to Get More Grit in Your Life“, which was a podcast featuring  Angela Duckworth. I really enjoy these quiet moments as you get a chance to reflect and think about what is being said while building connections to ideas rolling in your head.

This past week I attended ElevateEDU which is a really great educational conference and organization in Kansas City. One of my favorite things about conferences is the opportunity to engage in rich conversations with other passionate educators who want to fundamentally change education to increase learner agency and provide rich experiential opportunities.

With the growing capacity of social media, there is no shortage of opinions stating why and how education must change to meet the needs of our learners. One of the things that worries me is that we seem to be developing a narrative that everything we have ever done in education is wrong and that in order to make it right, we absolutely must blow up the system and go another direction.

Each day I see statements like these:

  • If we would just apply ____ (insert your acronym of choice), we would race to the top and life would be better.
  • If we had more money we could ____.
  • If my administrator would just get on board I might _____.
  • If only I had more time…

You get the picture.

Fast forward to this morning’s walk. As I’m listening to Duckworth’s conversation about building grit, she says this one little statement that made me literally stop in the middle of the road…

Angela Duckworth

Let’s think about this statement for a minute. Substitute nuance… a “subtle difference” for novelty a “quality of being new, original, or unusual”.

We are living in a world of abundance in terms of information, requests of our time and talents, and requirements to weed through countless choices in order to make great decisions. I’m proposing as change leaders we don’t need to blow up the entire system to be innovative. We need to think strategically about where we want our organization to go and then intentionally “tweak” until we see the results we want.

With a growing sense of urgency out there to change everything right now, we need to grow leadership at all levels both formal and informal. Let’s leverage the powerful thinking and experiences of our educators by creating opportunities for taking risks. What if you don’t live in a supportive environment? You have to identify what you do control and make incremental changes and then share..and share…and share. Often change is not embraced out of fear and what if your story ignites a change in the system? As individuals we can do a lot, but connected we are so much more.

I’m making a list right now of the things I can control to help support the learning environment for learners (adult and children).

  1. At a district level, I pledge to create a better communication and transparent learning platform with our LEADS Website.
  2. At a building level, I pledge to spend time this summer developing ideas to help integrate the district goals in practical and meaningful ways.
  3. At a personal level, I pledge to spend more time walking with my dog and listening to podcasts that make me stop and wonder what I can do from my seat to make education better for all learners.

What small change will you intentionally make today and how will you measure future impact?


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