Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Gift of Incremental Change

Source: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l89jebLw5s1qa2e9qo1_500.jpg

Ever wake up, look at your RSS feeds and realize you're completely reading the wrong stuff for where you are at that moment? You know, our needs change from year to year, if not day to day, and finding the right content to learn and grow from can be challenging. In the past, it was the search for the perfect book, the right author whose message would touch your heart and get you going. That search continues via Twitter, blogs, and more. That can be problematic, right?
At school when I have an idea I have to find people willing to participate in it, someone whom I trust enough to listen to me and who will then weigh their options. I have to make my case and put myself out there for possible rejection, and it hurts when something gets shot down. Yet it is through these awkward moments of self-selling that we become bigger people and a tighter knit school community. Let's face it, it takes real courage to speak up at a staff meeting surrounded by your everyday peers. Does it take courage to speak up on Twitter? 
Source: Is Twitter a Cop Out? 
Yes, when anything becomes a shelter from the storm when the work remains to be done. Now, for me, it's the search for the RSS feed, the blog entry that will put you on the road to transformative learning. As I reflect on the rich conversations going on in my RSS feeds, I realize that what I'm missing is those conversations. It all came home to me when I read David Truss' Pair A Dimes' Slowly by Slowly blog entry recently. The concept of "chinglish" caught my imagination, embedding itself like the teeth of a bear trap in an unwary hiker's ankle.

Slowly by slowly.And as I look back to the West, I see progress. I see educators connected to learning networks and learning communities. I see edubloggers and educational leaders presenting forward-thinking ideas… focused on pedagogy, empowering learners, and meaningful application of technology. I see global collaboration, teachers reflecting on their practice, students sharing their work with experts and the world. I see pocket of brilliance. What I don’t see is the big picture changing.
Step by step. Little by little. Slowly by slowly.How do we move beyond incremental changes, one-teacher-at-a-time, to system-wide change?
How do we meaningfully lead the (r)evolution of education?
What does it take to create a new paradigm, where we question everything and make agile, meaningful changes to (a collective) ‘our’ practice?
As time goes by, as I read about the powerful changes coming to public schools in the U.S. by political forces bent on destroying the status quo, remaking it in the image of something I have trouble seeing because it's never been explained, the vision never crystallized, never clearly defined, I've learned to appreciate the gift of incremental change.

Unlike David, who wants to create the change now, I have to say I feel washed away by the changes in schools. And, that the writing I'm reading in my RSS feeds isn't preparing me for the changes I will have to undergo. That's a strange feeling because when I began blogging, everything I read prepared me for learning about Web 2.0, the Read/Write Web, etc. Now, all of that seems so irrelevant.

"Technicians are irrelevant if
educators don’t use technology
- Doug Johnson

As I start to find my voice again, drowned out by the protests, the fighting, the arguments, the injustice, the callous disregard of State legislators, ad nauseum, I seek only to find those voices in my RSS feed that...speak to me of how to move forward when everything seems to be flowing backwards.

A favorite quote of mine from Robert Quinn (Deep Change) goes like this:
New paradigms are created by engaging a new action path, one in which we must separate from the status quo and courageously face and tackle uncertainty. Old maps drive us into a state of great pain and frustration.
It's time for a new map.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for quite a while now, and I just needed to let you know how inspiring I find it. I am so appreciative that you take the time to lay out your thoughts on so regular a basis, and allow us all to learn from your experience. On the eve of a faculty presentation about the value of RSS feeds, I'm particularly grateful today. I have nothing substantial to contribute at this moment, but didn't want to miss the opportunity to finally say, "thank you."

David Truss said...

Hi Miguel,

A friend sent this to me today:
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

I've left and come back to this post several times in the past few hours... wanting to contribute, but unsure if my words would add any value.

I see a lot of merit in incremental changes, especially when dealing with every step forward being an effort and with stepping into uncertainty.

I wonder. Am I impatient for change, or am I lost and like you, looking for a map? The only answer I have is, "I don't know?" ... and perhaps that is why I'm challenged in coming up with a response here.

Your voice is one I truly value because we tend to see things differently.

So what is the lesson here?

Miguel Guhlin said...

@Holly thanks for your support! I hope you'll share how your RSS feeds presentation went with us. It is a difficult concept for folks to grasp, and I'm always looking for ways to clarify the way.

With appreciation,

Miguel Guhlin said...

@David, of course your words add value. Anyone who starts out quoting Lao Tzu can't end TOO badly!! (laugh).

I hope you didn't interpret my post as disagreement. It's not that I don't want to see radical change, but that in the absence of that change, one must take nourishment from incremental changes.

These, like drips of water in the midst of a drought, are a gift to a parched earth. Though they change little, they remind one that change is possible.

With appreciation for the differences in our thinking that yield insights,

Miguel Guhlin

David Truss said...

Love your metaphor, I'm reminded of this... "Even the greatest waterfall begins with a single drop", which I'm sure dates further back than the movie, 'The Power of One', but that's where I remember hearing it first.

I think the lesson I was looking for was that I should celebrate the accomplishments I see, no matter how small or incremental they may be.

As always, thanks for your insight!

Miguel Guhlin said...

@datruss, oh, I loved the Power of One. I wonder if that's where my brain pulled the drop and desert connection? Need to watch that movie again!!! Thanks for the conversation and reminders!

Genuine Leadership #4: Gratitude