Connect – Collaborate – Challenge – Change.

Where to start? I imagine that’s a question that pops up for many people when approaching change in our education system. It’s also a question that came up when thinking about how on earth do I start this post!? There are so many questions regarding change…Do we? Don’t we? Who? Why? How? What? When maybe, the first question we really should be asking is why, or more specifically, why not?

My passion, reasoning and understanding in the field of education have been revived, challenged and developed greatly over the last year. I believe the main reason for this is the team of people I work with everyday- both colleagues and learners. And after the last two weeks I can also add my PLN to that equation. Being challenged to be more active within this area has lead to some pretty big wow! moments since the holidays started. So I think this is where it all starts…connecting and collaborating!

When it came to collaborating with a fellow teacher on an important issue in education, we both had change on the brain. Celia and I didn’t quite stick to the terms of our chosen #EdBlogNZ challenge,  but we did collaborate, question and challenge the value of change. There was even a non-selfie in there! Our brainstorm covers a lot; too much for one blog post (especially for this newbie). There’s a lot to take in and process and I’ve found it’s left me with more questions than when I started! This hopefully explains why this post is all over the show. Even so, there were some definite takeaways from our conversation.


Change Brainstorm

While I was in the #notatULearn15 camp, I was still following the conference pretty closely on Twitter. A slide from a presentation earlier today popped up that really struck a chord with me- “We constantly assess the risk associated with change, but rarely assess the risk of remaining with the status quo”. ‘Risk’, it seems, is one of those words with a negative connotation. If risk also includes the potential to gain something of value, then why are we so focussed on what we might lose? Why are we not focussed on what we can gain from change?

When looking at why we should promote and initiate change, the question that actually came into my head was why not? It’s possible that this question might have something to do with my last post on what we can learn from kids. We’ve all heard the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’…well, why not? We need to look at the reasons we became educators in the first place. From what I’ve read and heard about the people leading their schools through change, it hasn’t been easy! It can be hard work but surely it is part of our role as an educator to do our best to improve outcomes for all of our learners.


We spoke about the idea proposed by Grant Lichtman of becoming more confident and comfortable with discomfort. It’s similar to a statement I’ve used in ABL sessions for a few years now. It’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable; getting out of your comfort zone and into your learning zone. Even doing something as simple as watching a colleague teach for 3 minutes (also suggested by Grant). Being able to get the feedback, give the feedback and challenge each others thinking in a constructive way. Of course, all of this requires a certain level of relational trust, which could be the first hurdle for some schools.

Humans are creatures of habit and it seems that the older we get, the more afraid we are of change. Sometimes things just get put into the ‘too hard’ basket. But ask yourself, if we (the teachers) are the ones afraid of change, then whose interests are truly being served? Question why you’re doing what you’re doing and figure out where it is that you really want to go. As Martin Luther King Jr. said “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.


About Jo Smith

Health & PE teacher and TIC Outdoor Education at Aotea College.
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3 Responses to Connect – Collaborate – Challenge – Change.

  1. Pingback: CHANGE – What? Why? How? Who? | celiafleck

  2. ariaporo22 says:

    Absolutely adored this post! The need for growth mindset and accepting risk as a way to move forward is critical. Grant Lichtman mentioned a boy he talked to who was 5 or 6 and how he’d said, “We fail hard and we fail fast. We learn and move forward.” Or something to that effect. So awesome. Totally agree with you that we as educators need to up our game and be the risk takers, the newbies. Congrats on creating your PLN too e hoa! 🙂 Look forward to connecting with you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jo Smith says:

      Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more about educators needing to up their game and take risks…we need to be the change we want to see!


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