Label all changes an experiment
Change(v):to become different.
When I think of change I normally have two reactions- how much is it going to cost me(in the form of time, money, effort) and why do I need to change? Unlike most people, I love change. I am constantly thinking about what’s next. I get bored easily. My students love that we change directions frequently to avoid school becoming monotonous and boring. My college roommate found out early on that I constantly liked to change the layout of the room. What he did not appreciate was that I often chose to make a change sometime after midnight.
Teaching is always about change. Many changes come from the state department of education or even lawmakers. The joke that I always hear when teaching is that if I do not like how something is done, wait three years and it will change. What makes this joke funny is that it is true. What makes it sad is that many teachers will just try to wait out the change and not really consider why the change is happening.
What we, as educators, can not ignore is that our world is changing at an incredible rate of speed. Technology has been a blessing and a curse. Whether we like it or not, our students are different now than they were in the past. As people, they have the same needs students have always had, but as learners they are different. They live in a culture that expects collaboration and sharing of their work. They will never again be satisfied by a school that focuses more on paperwork than real world projects. They will never again believe that the teacher is the only vehicle to gain knowledge. There is a Youtube video or an instructable out there right now that can probably explain a subject better than you can. That is a scary thought, but should also be empowering for you, and for them. You do not need to know everything, and honestly you should quit trying to pretend that you do.
That brings me to the title of this blog. One of the most powerful things I have learned as an educator is to label every major change as an experiment. What??? Webster defines an experiment as “an operation or procedure carried out under controlled conditions in order to discover an unknown effect or law, to test or establish a hypothesis”. Though it may sound silly, people are more forgiving of an “experiment” than they are of a change that is forced upon them. By definition, an experiment is being done to test out an idea.
As a leader in your school, what would happen if you asked your teachers to experiment with new technology instead of forcing them to implement a certain technology in a very specific way? What if you encouraged students to join in that experiment to discover new possibilities? In the end, if the change you are trying to implement does not work, chalk it up as an experiment and move on. Learn to fail quickly. Experiments fail, but that does not mean the process is over. Label everything an experiment.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash