School Culture and "Sticky" Small Changes: Learn. Commit. Do. Review.

While change may interrupt the usual flow of our daily lives and disrupt our normal functioning, it also affords us the opportunity, and the challenge, to examine our lives and to alter its course, if we so choose. Or to stay the course, making better choices and decisions in the life we’re already living.
— Psychology Today: "The Nature of Change"

From New Year's resolutions to our vow to exercise more, we all find change a challenge even when the change is about something important to us.

I've attended and organized many learning events over my decades as a trainer across a number of industries. Experience and the research on change have shown us why change initiatives often fail, and what it takes to achieve successful change

Often we leave these inspiring sessions energized by the ideas and practices with thoughts about the changes we'll be making at our schools. Nationwide, school culture has been at the top of the list as the key area for change. If you're working on changes to your school's culture, one of best ways for this take place is for you to lead by example and to model them for your faculty and staff -- before asking them to adopt the new idea.

What I've learned, both for myself personally and in observing those attending events, is that successfully embedding the change requires these active steps -- Learn. Commit. Do. Review.

1.  Learn.  The easiest part of the process. We're all excited by the new practice we learned about at the conference or workshop or read. What will be important for successful adoption is to remember to chose just 1-2 changes to work on for the next 60 days.

Tom Murray, sharing "Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow's Schools, Today" [Hawaii 2018]

Tom Murray, sharing "Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow's Schools, Today" [Hawaii 2018]

2.  Commit.  When choosing your change, keep in mind that even seemingly small changes in mindset and culture can have a big impact. Now write it out in a clear one or two sentence vision that captures the change. Be sure that you include what this new behavior or action looks like in practice so that you can "see" yourself in action.

Jimmy Casas, working with educators on role play at the conference. [Hawaii 2018]

Jimmy Casas, working with educators on role play at the conference. [Hawaii 2018]

3.  Do.  Change will require more than a commitment, you'll need to put the change into practice -- daily for the next 60 days.

4.  Review.  Check in with yourself throughout the 60 days on how you're doing. What obstacles are your encountering? Your reflections on the process will help you lead others through their own change. Recognize that it's a process and resist the urge to feel that "you've got this" and move on to another new change project before the 60 days have passed.

Making Change Sticky
It's important that you share your change throughout the process and talk about it often with those you trust -- your PLN is a good place to share. Make your change process visible so that it becomes a solid part of your professional life.


Recommended Reading: For more thoughts on change, read Jimmy Casas' blog post "Live Your Will... Live Your Change"

The danger of going through change without allowing ourselves to truly experience it is that transition through change may not actually occur. If we are too uncomfortable to stay the course through transition, too anxious to fix the problem, we may lose the message and its accompanying transformative effect. Change without transition may only serve to recreate old scenarios and reinforce old patterns of behavior.
— Psychology Today: "The Nature of Change"