Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perhaps we need to improve and not change

I just finished reading “The Six Secrets of Change” by Michael Fullan. Before that I read “Who Killed Change” by Ken Blanchard. If you look at my bookshelves you will find books about leadership, education, and change. I would say that one of my goals is to be an educational change agent leader. I am not sure if that is the correct title but I think you get my drift. One of my first administrative positions was in a small Jewish Day school in Calgary Alberta. I was young and relatively new to administration and I wanted to come in and leave my mark on the school. As a staff project we read and discussed the book “Who moved my Cheese”, I thought that by reading that I could help them cope and understand the value to the changes I wanted to make. Now almost 10 years later I have learned that change is difficult and it takes more than reading a book together to even begin the process.

Here are Fullan’s Six Secrets

1. Love your employees
2. Connect peers with purpose
3. Capacity Building prevails
4. Learning is work
5. Transparency Rules
6. Systems learn

Based on this list I would like to offer a slight variation for educators. I will call my list

“Six Improvements we can make as educators”

1. Teachers need to love their students and administrators need to show teachers that they care about them
2. Everyone in the school needs to know the mission and vision of the school and buy into it
3. All stakeholders need to be motivated to work together for the ultimate good ( meeting the needs of our students)
4. We always be improving. We wouldn't want a surgeon using 20 year old techniques so why should we be using 20 year old techniques in the classroom
5. Teachers need to be open and honest with students. It is OK for a teacher not to know something. We need to do away with the top down approach to rules in the classroom. Administrators need to be open and honest with teachers.
6. We need to create a school culture that is focused on learning and the culture defines the organization regardless of who the current leader is.

Except for number six I think numbers 1-5 are doable and should be the goal for all teachers and administrators.

Truth be told I didn’t change very much of Fullan’s six secrets but just boiled them down a bit to be more practical.

If you look closer there is one important difference. I used the word improvement rather than change. If you ask someone do you want to improve at something the overwhelming majority of people would like to improve who wouldn’t? To use a sports analogy who wouldn’t want to improve their batting average by 200 points. However ask if you want to change you get a very different answer. Ask the same baseball player does he want to change his swing even though it will improve his batting average you will probably get a very different response.

I would consider myself a change agent, perhaps we need to change what words we use in order to achieve our goal. What if we used the word IMPROVE instead of Change.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?


  1. I appreciate that both sets of "secrets" start with the concept of loving one another. Relationships are key to any growth or improvement that will happen, but too many times we assume (or hope) that love will develop or be present. Teachers and administrators need to prioritize and be proactive about demonstrating their care and concern so that the stage can be set for real improvement (change) to occur. It doesn't just happen. It must be intentional. Great thoughts, Rabbi.

  2. Phillip,
    Thank you for your comment. I agree 100%. Perhaps added to the list should be " Role Models"- that teachers and perhaps more importantly administrators need to model the behavior they want to see.
    Thanks again for your feedback.