I recently realized how many mistakes I have made both professionally and personally to promote change. The academic inside me insists on justifying my ideas with facts. If someone wanted me to change something, I would want them to explain why and how, right? The more I thought about that the more I reflected on the countless ineffective meetings I have attended during which my colleagues or bosses talked at me. I felt the way those smokers first felt: resistant. They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know and failed to inspire me to make a change. That’s what I want to do and that’s how this changes my thinking. I want to remind everyone why we became educators instead of simply presenting them with another new initiative.
Ironically, I was watching Law and Order earlier today. The idea that our entire justice system is based on proof mirrors our focus on the mind instead of the heart. The prosecutors don’t simply walk into the courtroom and say, “He did it because I just know it and I said so;” they need evidence to ensure success. It’s difficult to argue with logic, but the same can’t be said with feelings. By appealing to the heart we must take into account individual opinions and situations. While this is a more challenging approach on the surface, it is very obvious that it’s needed in order to promote change. By focusing on the heart it increases motivation and the dedication to the change. If we are able to make each educator see value in the changes we want to make, they are much more likely to take ownership and be intrinsically motivated to succeed.
Answering why something needs to happen is the only way to get others on board. People, no matter what age, need to know why they are doing something to truly buy in. If the answer involves morals and values, there is an even greater chance for success. This has also helped me remember why I am working so hard on something and often gives me that extra boost. It can create a sense of urgency because it creates a direct relationship between the actions and the desired results. Making the why more about the heart can also create urgency because, in my opinion, emotional successes are much more gratifying than logical ones. While increasing test scores is rewarding, it is no match to the feeling when a student enjoys and finds value in a class.