by Professor Joe Martin
One of my favorite singers, Cheryl Crow wrote a song a few years ago entitled, “Change Will Do You Good!” It soared to top of the pop charts with its upbeat rhythm and catchy chorus. But the truth of the matter is, how many of us truly believe that change is good?
If we closely examine change – especially in the teaching profession – it’s usually accompanied by a lot of stress. New policies, new administration, new procedures, new expectations, new requirements, and even new students, all sound good on the surface, but rarely “feel” good to our bodies when we encounter them.
We all know how personal life changes can knock our lives out of whack and put us out of balance (from an unexpected debt to an unanticipated death), but when you add n-the-job changes to the mix, it’s darn near impossible to bear.
Well, I’m here, as I always attempt to do, to bring you a spark of hope and a kernel of truth you can grab hold of – and that’s this: “a change CAN do you good.” Whether good, bad, or indifferent, change is like a piece of art – “the beauty of it is in the eyes of the beholder.” As you know, it’s not about what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens.
And basically, I believe we always have three (3) choices when it comes to responding to change: either we can get up (and do something about it and learn from it), give up (and throw in the towel), or just shut up (accept it for what it is).
Now, I must admit, the last two options don’t really offer much promise or benefits. However, the first option – get up and do something about it and learn from it – sounds good, but doesn’t always seem plausible, especially if we don’t agree with the change.
So how do you get up when you’ve been knocked down by change? Simply look for the lesson in the change. I’m talking about finding the message in the middle of the mess that change sometimes creates. It’s no different than what you ask your students to do all the time when they’re not convinced how learning Algebra, studying history, completing a science project, or learning a foreign language will benefit them.
We have to be creative and diligent in searching for truth. Become an investigator looking for evidence that will help you crack open the case for change. Just ask yourself the following questions whenever change unexpectedly shows up at your doorstep:
1.) What character trait will (or can) this change develop in me?
2.) What lesson will I (or can I) learn from this change?
3.) What can this change prepare me for in the future?
4.) What attitude do I need to develop to deal positively with this change?
5.) What hidden opportunities can I find in this change?
6.) What do I need to know, learn, or master in order to stay on top of the change?
I think you get the point. There’s always something positive we can find in change, if we’re just willing to look hard enough for it. And to quote the words of the great Maya Angelou, “If there’s something you can’t change in your life, simply change your attitude about IT.” Teach with passion!