4 Ways to “Jolt” Yourself Toward Meaningful Change

Educators (and people) are creatures of habit.

Sometimes we do things because we have done those things in the past. No other reason.


I have watched so many teachers sit through dull, bullet-point slide presentations, wanting to be anywhere else but in that room. Then, many of those same educators work with their students to create the same type of “read off the slide” presentations in schools. If we hate sitting through it, why would we teach it?

As teachers, we sat through monotonous admin days, wasting time on excruciatingly long conversations such as whether students should wear hats or not in school.  We swear we would never do this if we were the principal, but then that same process is recreated, time and time again.  And then we wonder why things look the same in the classroom.

Now do these things happen in every school, all of the time? Nope.  But they do happen way too much.

One of the things that I truly appreciate is all of the amazing educators on Twitter sharing glimpses into their classrooms and professional learning days, making great things happen as the norm in their schools, not the exception.

How did they become that way?  No one pushed them to that; they pushed themselves.  They inspired themselves to try different things, ask challenging questions, and make new habits and norms.  They asked “why wouldn’t I try it this way?”, instead of being worried about what could go wrong.

Four hints on being that “jolt” you need for yourself:

  1. Walk into your schools any day and every day and look at everything you see and do and ask, “Why do we do it this way?” If “it is best for our students” doesn’t come into the conversation, change what you are doing,
  2. Ask questions and encourage having your ideas challenged. Iron sharpens iron.
  3. Support others in their journey, but also help them move forward.  We don’t just need “pats on the back”; a “push” now and then helps us to grow. People will leave if they do not feel they are being challenged and developed.
  4. Model what you seek. Don’t hope that others will change while you are the same.

A good friend of mine talked about how wonderful it was to be inspired, but also stated that she knew it wouldn’t last long.  It is like smelling sniffing salt. It can wake you up momentarily, but the hard work and struggle have to come from you, not somewhere else.

Be that “jolt” to yourself. It is the only way things get better and grow.


Source: George Couros