Change Fatigue is evident amongst staff in many schools. Eyes rolling at the meer hint of change, car park meetings of staff that last longer than the staff meeting, hunched shoulders, slow head shaking and twitching when the ‘c’ word (change) is said, are all symptoms of Change Fatigue.
Staff in many schools complain that they have been in a world of constant change that seems to be accelerating and shows no sign of slowing. They long for a period of stability and want the world to stop. You can hear their pleas, “Just for a year, could we have no new initiatives, so that we can consolidate what we are doing?”
Unfortunately I believe that we are at times our own worst enemy through both our mindset and our well-intended actions and are in fact contributing to change fatigue. Whilst we have been in a constant state of flux in recent years, education needs to reflect what is happening in society. Whilst schools are in the midst of change, the pace in many schools is far slower than that of many other industries and society in general.
Consider for example, changes at the supermarket – self check-out, how frequently we shop, the uptake of on line shopping for groceries and home delivery, opening seven days per week, the expanded number of Coles and Woolworths locations and their dominance of both the grocery and fuel markets. The banking industry has also experienced massive change.
How long has it been since you spoke to a bank teller (yes, remember them)? iTunes, the iPhone and iPad have changed the music industry, our connectivity and use of the internet. I wonder what impact the iSchool would have? Despite staff in many schools feeling that they have been inundated by change, the actual changes to our core structures and mode of operating are less evident than some other industries. Whilst we might feel that we are tired of constant change, many changes ‘wither on the vine’ and don’t reach their potential. I believe that our eagerness to keep everyone happy and our sympathy for those who complain of feeling inundated, leads us to ‘tip-toeing’ on some initiatives. We deliberately plan small changes in the hope that people will gradually make the change.
Remember the story of the frog who didn’t get out of the boiling water, he just accepted the gradual heating of the water? I believe that by nature, most educators are people pleasers. We like to get on with people and have people like us! It is because of this well-meaning nature that staff in many schools experience a ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and feel that they are constantly changing. Whilst a journey of a thousand miles must start with the first step, you can’t leap a chasm with small steps.
At times we would be better served taking a great leap, significantly changing our practice and implementing a more radical change than we would normally pursue. Rather than suffering the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ we would actually make significant progress. A good example is the implementation of the Australian Curriculum by Queensland State Schools in 2012. Whilst initial thoughts would have been for a gradual roll out of one curriculum area at a time, the decision was made to implement the new curriculum in Maths, English and Science. Whilst this placed a massive demand on teachers (especially primary teachers implementing all three), significant progress was made in 2012.
Staff in schools had learnt a massive amount about the new curriculum and were well positioned for the 2013 strategy of rolling out the history curriculum. The alternative strategy of taking a more conservative and measured approach of implementing one curriculum area at a time would have resulted in full implementation taking eight years. Somebody would have changed the curriculum in the interim and we would never have fully implemented it. Rather than death by a thousand cuts and adding to the change fatigue of staff, be brave and bite off more than you would normally. Be prepared to chew quickly!
Make it Personal On World Teacher’s Day
Whilst many schools hold a special assembly or morning tea to mark World Teachers’ Day on Friday 25 October, I believe that a personal touch in showing appreciation is even better. This year I’m encouraging you to send a personal, handwritten note through the post to each of your teachers, at their home. The prevalence of email has led to us rarely receiving anything but bills through the post. Receiving a hand written message, at home, shows that you have gone to an effort to appreciate your staff.
To assist you, I am offering to send FREE postcards to schools who are Happy School subscribers (and only $1 each for schools who aren’t Happy School members! – if your school isn’t a member now would be a great time to join. Only $295 per year to receive our weekly articles to share with your staff and you’ll receive the postcards FREE. The one page Happy School articles are designed to help boost staff morale and reduce teacher stress. Just email us and we’ll set up your subscription and email you an invoice.)
To order your Happy School postcards, send me an email advising how many cards you require, include your postal address and I’ll send them to you. We’ll even pay the postage! info@HappySchool.com.au Once you receive your postcards, hand write your message to each teacher, address it to their home, attach a stamp and pop it in the post in time to arrive on World Teacher’s Day. Yes, it takes time but you will be amazed how much impact your thoughtfulness, effort and personal approach have.
Teaching is like planting trees HS postcard Last year 9 500 postcards were snapped up by school leaders and sent to Australian teachers. Don’t miss out this year! Internationally World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on the first Friday in October. However as this is usually during Australian school holidays, Australia celebrates the day on the last Friday in October of each year – Friday October 25, 2013. World Teachers’ Day was created by UNESCO in 1994 to celebrate teachers worldwide. Its aim is to mobilise support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers. Celebrated in over 100 countries, World Teachers’ Day acknowledges the efforts of teachers in an increasingly complex, multicultural and technological society. PS Don’t forget to celebrate the other great staff who work in your school with special days and personal notes to thank them too. It takes a great team to make a great school – cleaners, aides, office, tuckshop, grounds and support staff!
Fast Track School Improvement
One of the fastest ways to school improvement is to identify and address problems. Utilising surveys of staff, parents and students is a fast way of identifying barriers or issues that are having an impact on your school’s effectiveness. Whilst the government surveys we completed in Queensland provided useful data on where there were issues, I needed more specific issues so I developed my own surveys. To avoid the sampling problems of pen and paper surveys, I developed an email version so all parents, students and staff could be included. Rather than using surveys of students for teacher performance evaluations, we use a survey instrument each quarter to provide the teacher with formative feedback.
Visit www.SurveyMySchool.com.au for further information on the interactive surveys of Students, Staff and Parents. The surveys not only provide data about levels of satisfaction, they also identify specific issues that can be addressed to increase school effectiveness. Identifying and overcoming barriers is the fast-track to school improvement. Contact us if you’d like to set up surveys as part of benchmarking, a school review process or a school improvement strategy. info@SurveyMySchool.com.au
LOVE Teaching Again Workshops
Stress levels in schools often peak in semester 2. Staff run out of energy and reserves. This is evident in diminished enthusiasm and increased staff illness. Little incidents that wouldn’t normally rattle them, are blown out of proportion. The end of the school year is a busy, demanding time. Finishing strong is important for student outcomes as well as staff morale and welfare. At Happy School we have put together a professional development session especially to equip staff to finish the year well. The session helps staff:-
- Remember why we teach
- Increase the satisfaction they get from teaching
- Improve their Work – Life balance
- Establish a positive mindset and
- Finish the year well
Email us now to check available dates for hosting a LOVE Teaching Again session at your school info@HappySchool.com.au Happy School articles this month include…
If your school is not currently subscribing to receive the weekly articles, www.happyschool.com.au and become a subscriber today. For less than the cost of ONE supply teacher day you can provide a weekly article to boost staff morale and reduce teacher stress.
We are all aware that PEOPLE make the difference in schools. Therefore investing in your people needs brings the best returns. Professional development sessions for your staff are available on a range of topics. These are ideal for student free days or twilight sessions. Email to check availability of your preferred date and book now. Which topic does your team need most?
- Increasing WORK-LIFE Satisfaction
- Building Trust – Essential Skills
- Thriving in Times of Change
- Gr8 People are Part of Gr8 Teams
- Feedback – Helping Teachers Be the Best They Can Be
- 7 Secrets to Motivating and Engaging Students
Conferences and Work With Schools This month I’m looking forward to working with …
- Western NSW Principals’ Conference at Broken Hill
- Sutherland Shire School Principals’ Conference at Woollongong
- Education Queensland Aspiring Leaders program
- School leaders throughout Qld through the QASSP Webinar series
- Leadership teams at Ferny Grove SHS, Wilston SS, Mabel Park SS and Corinda SHS
- School staff at Highland Reserve SS, Coomera Rivers SS, our Lady’s College and Canberra
- School leadership teams on the Gold Coast on Establishing a Feedback Culture
If you’d like me to present at your conference or work with your staff, email me firstname.lastname@example.org