Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Professional reading

On the advice of a dear friend who was also our library coordinator, I started reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. (link courtesy of Amazon.com) I thought the book might help provide some clarity to my thinking and also help with all the changes we are seeing in my district, my school and across our state. 

The book is an easy read with lots of real world examples to make it easy to understand.  One of the biggest points in the book talks about the logical vs. the emotional side of making changes.  The authors refer to these as The Rider (logic) and The Elephant (emotions).  Obviously you can see emotions are a much larger part of the equation but logic drives us.  The key is to be sure The Rider can control The Elephant.  When the two are in sync, change is blissful--a wedding, a new baby--happy changes.

 But when the Rider and the Elephant don't operate in tandem, we see the conflicts and fear of change--Should I take this new job?  Should I sell my house?  Can I afford to go back to school? Why can't I lose weight? These situations are where we need guidance to make sure the changes can take place.  The authors use some key phrases to help--"direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path."   These phrases along with real world examples to show the implementation of the ideas give the reader a guide to make the changes happen.

I see how this can work in large organizations and I suspect our district admin people are using the tools to help us navigate the forces of change facing our district right now.  We're dealing with budget cuts, personnel cuts, and a generally low morale since teachers seem to be getting the blame for most everything these days!

The book does a good job of giving the reader some tools to help cope.  I plan on buying a few copies for our professional collection and handing them out to strategic people.  Maybe we can spread the word and keep our campus on the right track.

P.S. Just a personal shout out---our local paper published my letter (see Thursday's rant).  I'm pleasantly surprised!

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