Transforming other educators

Up until now, the corner of the blogosphere that is devoted to learning has done a great job of exploring issues, options and what's missing in the worlds of education. As others have observed, there seems to be a disconnect with the trenches of classroom teaching, corporate training, instructional design and technology integration. I'm sensing it's time for our blogging to enter its next phase where others are transformed by our presence, practice and purpose.

Those in the trenches of education, who are unaware and unaffected by us, are very busy. They are preoccupied with their very full plates and constant experience of being under the gun and falling behind. They don't have the time or the energy to read/write blogs, to reflect on their professional conduct, or to consider their effects on other learners. They can only try harder at what they are already pursuing. They have one degree of freedom that they are exploring with a vengeance.

There are two things I see we can do for these devotees of the status quo: add a new dimension to their work lives or give them the space of acceptance to outgrow their self-imposed limitations.

If their mad pursuit of professional obligations fills a horizontal plane, we are in a position to add a vertical dimension to their experience. We can rise above their struggles to see patterns, overviews, and panoramic possibilities. We can also delve below their full plate to help them discover their underlying purpose, unique perspectives and particular passions that nourish their pursuits.  This added dimension to their experience would give them ways to reflect on their efforts, a sense of timing to moderate their frenzy and a perspective that values how they are changing with additional experience.

We are also in a position to give the frenetic educators space to discover options on their own. When we see processes unfolding perfectly, we can validate their phase in the sequence. When we see how one development leads to the next, we can encourage them to do their thing. As we realize how systems yield wonderful changes emergently, we can let go of making things happen and enjoy the day to day process. In this appreciative space:

  • complaints become acknowledgement
  • intolerance becomes respect
  • pressure becomes trust
  • frenzy becomes moderation
  • meaninglessness becomes purpose
  • burnout becomes passion
  • anxiety becomes vision

Both the added vertical dimension and appreciative space in the lives of educators will transform them in these ways and more. 

1 comment:

  1. Tom:

    I agree with everything you've written in your post. I agree that acknowledging that educators are overworked, under-resourced and not appreciated is a must if we ever hope to gain their attention. (After all, context is everything.)

    I also agree that amazing things can happen when we drop our predispositions regarding those we seek to help and work with them at their level.

    But I just don't think you model goes far enough. I believe there are two more factors to be taken into account. First, it's incumbent upon those of us who hope to lead to be honest about the urgency of the need for change. Your approach of guiding them to find the light in their own way and time may often lead to them realizing that the light is attached to the train that's about to run them over.

    Second, even those who see a need for change will often be unable to take the actions necessary to create the change needed. Whether it's parents' organizations or government regulations for public school teachers, senior management that have no understanding that learning is an ongoing, not a one-off process, for workplace learning professionals, or a tenure policy that discourages self-reflection or experimentation with new ideas for higher education faculty and staff many of the situations we and our colleagues find ourselves in are broken.

    So to your vertical dimension and appreciative space, I'd add holding a white-hot spotlight on the changes that are coming so that everyone can see reality. In addition, I believe it is incumbent upon those of us who wish to lead to provide both external pressures for change and the tools for educators to use in their efforts to effect change from within.

    Thanks for starting the discussion, Tom!