Sunday, May 21, 2006

Stories Teachers Tell One Another

"There's nothing new" and "Stop using jargon" are two messages I get from some teachers. They are two of the many commonly used catch cries that make up the old story of educational change. These are the stories told by experienced teachers about the nature of educational change - or at least the kind of change that they have repeatedly experienced in their careers... and now the only kind of change that some of them can see...

Other teachers however are beginning to tell a new story. A story of "working together" and "doing things differently." While all teachers have been participating in the same educational change processes over the last two years the stories being told are not the same.

While the majority of teachers are beginning to use phrases from the new story I still hear some of the old story... It takes time to let go of the past... a process described in Senge's U-Process as 'letting go'.

One interesting aspect of this transformation from a past to a future view is that those teachers with the most clearly articulated stories of the process are those who have not let go of the past. They tell the old story with clarity and certainty while those learning the new story are exploratory and tentative. The result is that outside listeners can get the erroneous impression that the majority of teachers are disempowered and against change.

This then has a detrimental feedback effect on those who are starting to embrace the new story... causing them to second guess their emerging understanding and empowerment. That's one of the reasons I have found Senge's U-Process model so useful - it helps us understand the nature of the transformation process - and to see where we all are on the curve...

Of course out of this comes the opportunity to discuss, clarify and reafirm the new story. And hopefully the opportunity to move on with confidence into an emerging future.

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