Are you an edublogger/reformer? Which one of these labels–listed in no particular order–best fits you?

  1. Martyr – You’re willing to abandon everything you learned about working, surviving, thriving in your K-12 education culture and be a radical advocate for a new way of doing education involving the support of 21st Century Learning Skills (whatever you believe that to be), knocking traditional learning styles because they don’t have the research. When your boss asks you to enforce high stakes testing administrations, you rebel citing sad stories about how it’s not going to prepare students for the future. Getting burned at the stake is just fine, even though it means your family may have to struggle along in a tough economy without your income.
  2. Firecracker – Although you are willing to advocate for change in private, maintaining the status quo is all-important because you don’t want to lose your job. You’ve given “hostages to fortune” and while YOU can certainly talk and use Web 2.0 like the rest, you’re like a firecracker in the palm of your school district’s hand…lot of bang, but no serious change.
  3. Subversive – At every step of the way, you try to jam a spoke in the wheel, hoping the higher-ups won’t notice your actions.
  4. Quitter – Don’t like the way the ball is rolling? Quit and run to the next job…the grass is always greener over there and life’s too short to try to bring about change where you’re at, even though there are people that need it. Your life is too precious to waste on changing any education system.

My first blog entry about the GTA for Administrators was a lot of fun to write with the Moses, Promised Land connections, but I’d like to revisit it. I like Moses because he was the imperfect, reluctant leader. He was the guy God got mad at because he said he couldn’t get the job done. I’d like to think of Moses as the perfect role model for campus and district administrators who don’t know what to do in the face of change…not unlike Kelly in this blog entry about GTA for Administrators. Kelly’s post came after some reflecting I did yesterday as I sat through Alvin and Chipmunks.

I was reflecting on the whole GTA for Admins–including asking myself if I even wanted to go through the effort of applying and drinking the Google Kool-Aid just to see if made a difference–yesterday, and I had to ask myself, Is this really something worth doing and what impact will it have?

The answer was not as encouraging as I would have liked. Simply, the impact is limited to the changes I’m able to bring about in my organization…I have to ask two more questions:

  • Will attending GTA teach me anything fundamentally transformational? Maybe.
  • Will I be able to use that “maybe” to transform my organization’s perspective about Google? Not likely.

Like a conversation I had with another highly placed leader (two levels above my current position), districts have to overcome a lot of “personal inertia” present in its employees…for some districts, achieving such change is impossible. Imagine if Moses had to change the Pharaoh to his way of thinking rather than just pick up an leave. Maybe Martyrdom is the refuge of those who say, “Ok, I’m tired, I’m not going to move from this spot.”

Then, this morning, I read Kelly’s blog entry and this part jumped out at me:

Being an agent of change may seem like a great martyrdom thing in a system but, after awhile it, well, becomes old and, after being publicly humilated a few times for “improper technology use”, one sees that being an agent of change isn’t very glamorous and can be determental [detrimental] to your career….

We need leaders who will be able to move things in a different way. Telling them about the tools may give them some understanding, showing them how teachers use the tools may give them some information, connecting them with others who are the same may give them some support but we need to have leaders who have the time and energy to lead in ways that will bring about real change.

Dr. Scott McLeod, Educational Leadership guru via CASTLE, outlines the following options for Kelly, who serves as a vice-principal…who are we to argue with these options that Scott lays out quite clearly and are worth sharing again:

Kelly, I’m going to push you a bit… =)

So you’re in a position of leadership, not just management, right? And yet you essentially say that you personally can’t be a leader ’cause the system only allows you to be a manager. So… you have several options as I see them:

1. Leave the dysfunction and work in a more change-conducive system.

2. Quit because you can’t / won’t do what is needed – you’re not the right person for this job at this time – and let someone else do the job who does have the ability to be a leader, not just a manager, within this school system.

3. Continue to be miserable because you can’t reconcile the cognitive disconnects between your recognition for the need for change and your inability to make it happen.

4. Reframe the situation, recognize that you’re smart and talented, not helpless, and start doing things differently than your current practice so that you’re more efficacious.

I’m probably missing some other options but these are a start. Thoughts?

Everytime I’ve read or heard Scott makes these points, I’m tempted to argue with him. But the fact is, he’s right.

If you can’t get the job done, either decide to persist in making change in the face of serious opposition, or quit and get out of the way for someone else. If the job can’t be done, why are you still wasting your time staring at the wall? If you can’t get the job done and you have to waste your time staring at the wall, then learn how to paint a mural.

You know, GTA for Administrators isn’t the real issue. The real issue is bringing about change when no one else thinks that change is worthwhile.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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