Think of a time that you liked a change in your life. What or who made the change? What was the result of that change?
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Look around yourself. Is there anything that could be done more efficiently? If you always think about how you can do something more effectively, or advocate and encourage your friends/colleagues and yourself to make changes, you are a change agent. Change comes with challenges. As a teacher, when you change the content or the way you teach the content, often you have to come up with a new test, new statements that describe your students learning outcomes and how you are meeting those, new assessment tools and techniques. If you are not up for all of that work, you would do anything to avoid the change (until you are forced to make the change because your content or teaching pedagogy is out of date!). A change (whether big or small) comes with an expense, so you have to be able to justify and communicate the time and money that is spent and its benefits for all the stakeholders.
Todd Rose, author of The End of Average, describes the historical reasons and influence of using average (an average student, average successful person, average time for a test, average age for marriage...) and how it has influenced many decisions that we make as an educator, without realizing the thought-provoking idea that the average is a myth. In the TED Talk below, he describes how average-based designed airplane cockpits in 1952 were the reason that many good pilots failed. When the air force realized that the issue was the design, and requested personalized cockpit designs, they faced a pushback from the companies, however, when they resisted buying more planes, the airplane companies came up with the idea of adjustable seats (that we use in our cars today!). Rose then shares how we are in an age that our education system is failing, and the need for better designs that sound as impossible as making personalized cockpits, but as possible as the invention of adjustable seats!
As a teacher in the information age, you have access to an endless amount of information, technology, and tools that can make life better or worse. Your decisions regarding how you will use everything that is available to you leads to good or bad changes. Alan AtKisson, in the TEDx Talk video below, uses some great examples/songs to explain how you can be an effective agent of change. He discusses the importance of different roles that you can play in your organization to advocate for a good idea, whether it is yours or your colleagues’ idea, which could lead to a change. He also shares the personalities who try to shut down the change for different reasons. Knowing about these different reactions, and personalities, you can choose which one you would like to be, and how to manage working with those different roles and still advocate for change.
Ps. In our Becoming Change Agent lecture, we have asked our Professional Learning Network, to share their idea of change agents, the challenges that they have faced as change agents, and the reasons that they hire change agents. Listen what they had to say.