We need to find a healthy balance between being a “change junkie” and being set in our ways. Frequent change is unsettling, and change for the sake of it tends to only skim the surface before the next change is made.
This is not what our ECE settings need. The reverse is also not desirable - places that sail along, doing as they’ve always done and not ‘rocking the boat’ with any new thinking. What we really need is hearts and minds willing to embrace change if and where necessary.
Tools in our toolkit
We need a few ‘tools’ in our team toolkit to help us find the balance. We want growth, progression and inspiration, but to avoid a whirlwind of futile activity, or no movement at all.
As our team journeys together we would be greatly helped by:
- A questioning attitude - We have to be willing to question our current practices. This stops us from going stale. Why are we doing it this way? Is it working? Could we do better? Where could we get new inspiration from? We need to go far deeper than “because we’ve always done it this way”. Sometimes whole teams have changed and elements of the programme are still exactly the same. Have you questioned why?
- A filter - There might be so many things you want to tackle once you open the floodgates of questioning. A filter will help you slow it down a bit, and not take on too much at once. What needs the most immediate focus? Do that first, or as an alternative approach, what needs just a little tweaking? The success of a small change can help you gain momentum and positivity to then approach something larger. Take manageable chunks at a time, let the changes sink in. Purposeful and imbedded change is so much more useful than fast changes that get washed away in a sea of upheaval.
- An anchor - Changes need to make sense. They need to still ‘fit’ your setting. We need to grow but a complete remodel of our whole identity will throw everyone off course – teachers, children and families. Having a strong set of core values gives you an anchor point. It gives you something to weigh new ideas, advice and directions against. Your values will keep you strong in saying no to things that don’t fit, and to avoid jumping on the bandwagon of trends and buzzwords for the sake of it.
- A collaborative approach - No one likes change thrust upon them. They want to be part of it, to be involved and have a say. Take the time to get team buy in, and go in new directions together. Travelling together creates stronger teams, and stronger programmes.
- A pause button - There is a season for all things. Sometimes, especially in a sector as dynamic and tiring as ours, there is a season for pausing. Hit the stop or slow button, let the changes made settle, gather a collective breath, and then decide when the time is right to hit the play button again. A break won’t slow down progress ultimately, it will give you the energy to go further in the long run. The trick is not to pause too long. That is when we get stuck in the stale phase, and the let’s just keep going as we are mindset settles in.