This may be obvious to some, but I am learning that when big changes occur, it opens a lot of doors for people to move out of their comfort zone on their own and create their own change.
In my school, the beloved longtime principal retired, and this year, a young, energetic principal and former colleague takes his place. Needless to say, things are different. It also goes almost without saying that the changes are not nearly as drastic as people imagined they would be, but it is clear we are under new management.
What I am finding, though, is that many of my colleagues, and I as well, are making our own changes. I see in my building that the spark of change has awakened a lot of people to new possibilities. Some are changing in anticipation of being forced to change, deciding to do it on their own terms and feel control. Others are simply realizing that since they are being asked to do A and B differently, it might be a great time to take a close look at C as well. We still may have colleagues looking more and more uncomfortable as things around them change and as the very conversations held with colleagues become more evolved, but there is something good happening to our school culture. A friend and colleague who teaches in a room not far from mine, revealed to me that he was bringing iPads into the classroom this week. Smiling sheepishly, he said he was trying to “stretch himself.” This is a big move for him–he has used the same overhead notes for decades. No one asked him to start using more technology. He just decided this was the year. I admire him a lot for that. I have noticed similar, almost subtle changes around the building. Something is happening here.
Perhaps when administrators get into routines, it lulls faculty into routines, and then even changes that are desired and popular seem less of a priority and more of a chore. I now see that the culture of innovation is not created by leadership, but awakened by it.
There remains the promise of many future growing pains. I already see the honeymoon is coming to an end with some of my more reluctant colleagues, and some minor revolts are possible. What I also see is that those revolts will be largely solitary. Many of my colleagues seem to like this awakening, and I don’t think it is something they are willing to give up for the false promise of “having things as they were.” There is a sense of momentum going on that people see as essentially positive. I look forward to seeing where it leads us.