By G. FAITH LITTLE
Fear of change is real. Whether it’s seemingly small, like sharing with someone you just met, or much larger, like being challenged to move from teacher-led to student-led discussions, you don’t know what to expect. A script can begin to run in your head about what happened last time you tried a new technique in the classroom and it didn’t land, or a story develops about why people around you keep asking you to change – they probably see my weaknesses and think they’re better at teaching than I am. Great, now I’m going to feel like I’m not really competent if I’m being asked to change.
This is a good place to stop. Stop the story and focus on one small action you can take to overcome fear. Simply ask, “Why?”
"Teachers must embrace the same message we give to students: Learning is about taking risks, trying, failing, and improving."
In his article The Challenge of Change, Harvard’s Zachary Herrmann says “Every time we find a gap between our values and our practice we have an opportunity to reflect and ask, ‘Why?’ What is really getting in the way? As leaders, are we creating environments that make others feel safe to take responsible risks? As teachers, how ready are we to feel incompetent in service of our own learning and growth?"
At CPET, we use the 5 Whys protocol when we want to get below the surface of whatever is standing in our way. We start with a statement -- in this case it could be: I don’t want to share how I feel about my classroom. Then we begin to ask, “Why?”
This protocol is a simple one that can help us address our fears, connect with ourselves, teams, and students. The process of questioning keeps our minds moving instead of freezing up with fear, and after our need is expressed we can consider how we want to meet it, by ourselves or with support from others.