Change is Really, Really Hard!

The word “change” can be scary and frustrating for many people. We love our comfort zone. We like how things “used to be”. Just when it seems like all the hard work we have put into something, someone wants us to try a different, better way. This potential change can cause an array of emotions that leave all of us scratching our heads and wondering why, why, and why? Common emotions we may feel when change is bestowed upon us could be confusion, resistance, anxiety, and frustration.

We may also feel the need to defend our “old ways” and then go back to doing what we have always done. Is having an issue with change justifiable? Absolutely! This justification can happen when something is missing. For change to be successful, many factors need to be in place. If a single factor is missing, we can feel some of the emotions mentioned earlier. A couple of weeks ago I attended an educational conference and the topic of change was discussed. One of the resources we were given was a chart that contained factors needed for change and the emotions we may feel when one or more of those factors are missing. I created a chart that I adapted from Ambrose, D. (1987), Managing Complex Change, as well as others I came across.

This chart shows that if a change is to occur, there needs to be a clear vision, a reason to change, required skills, necessary resources, and an understanding of what needs to be done and how. The chart also matches the human emotion we feel when one of those factors is missing.Using technology in the classroom is a big change for many of us. I am certain some of you are feeling some of these emotions as you are working through the use of technology. I want to help each of you squash these emotions so you can use technology to create more engaging lessons for your students while being more efficient with your time. Here is a quick breakdown of each of the factors that affect change.

1. Vision: We want a clear vision to create the big picture ideas that everyone needs so they have a sense of where this change is taking them. We will all be confused if there is a lack of vision. 

2. Incentives: We want reasons to change and want to know what is in this for us. When this is lacking, resistance to this change will rear its head.

3. Skills: We want to know what knowledge or training we are going to need for us to be successful with change. People will feel anxious if they do not believe they have the expertise to implement the change.

4. Resources: We will need help and that can come in many forms. Equipment, additional staffing, support, and everything else that is required to make the change possible. Frustration will set in when resources are at a minimum, even with the best laid out plan.

5. Action Plan: We all want to know what the process will be as we move forward with a change. When we do not know the steps involved in the plan, we feel like we are running on a treadmill and going nowhere. This is when many of us will revert back to the old ways of what we know in our comfort zone.

In any type of change situation, we all need a little bit of patience and offer an ear for some empathetic listening. We must ask questions to get clarity, so we can get back on track to institute positive change. I am hoping this blog post can spark some conversation with your fellow teachers to effectively and efficiently create engaging lessons for your students with the use of technology.

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