The Uh Uh Approach to Risk

"Why aren't we integrating technology into teaching, learning and leadership more? Nothing we do seems to get through to teachers. It's like they just don't care and no one is willing to make them do it."
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I occasionally find myself in these conversations and confess to being baffled myself. Why aren't we, why aren't I, able to get more traction on these? I suspect the answer lies in the lack of relationships. I've noticed you have to build a deep relationship to see changes, and that only comes about after sufficient time, delivering on promises in spite of oppositional thinking. But again, building relationships can't just be the only obstacle, right?

Of course, it might be that people are just too afraid to change or do something new. It may be that they are too tired, their lives too full of old stuff. In the case of the latter, I find myself wanting everyone to come up with a Stop Doing list and add to that list every approach that doesn't get us to where our children need to be.

Taking risks is important, too. I know a veteran administrator who decided to start a blog to document her trip abroad. Kudos to the effort, a way to step out there. Perhaps, the idea that we don't have anything to say (we all do, we just put it aside inexplicably) plays a part. Consider Culture and Innovation's blog entry by Tim Kastelle:
I often hear from people that their organisation has a “risk-averse culture.” When I do, I remind them that we create culture – through our own interactions every day.  So if we want to change our culture, the first place to start is with what we do ourselves.
This assertion appeals to me. It means that change begins with the person in the mirror. I've never taken a class on taking risks...but I have often been told to NOT take risks. I'm the kinda guy who when asked to go skydiving, skiing, spelunking, my first reaction is, "Uh uh."

The web site makes some suggestions:

  1. Think first! Is your risk a dangerous one?
  2. Plan it out. Sometimes risks need more than just you.
  3. Build up self confidence. Make yourself believe that you can do it.
  4. Execute. Do it!
  5. Evaluate. Think back on your risk and ask "Was it worth it?"
  6. Think and repeat. After just one risk, ask yourself if you could do another one. 

I've found that ignorance usually makes all risks dangerous. But often, the risk is minimized when you know more, when you talk to others in the community. An approach for taking risks in educational change could follow this pattern:

  1. Connect with others first via Twitter. Find out how they're doing stuff.
  2. Plan your strategy and then try it out in front of others (not your class).
  3. Get feedback, blog about the experience and ask yourself, "How can I improve?"
  4. Try it out with your class, and be up front with them that this won't be perfect. Reflect on the experience and try again.
Avoid the uh uh approach to risk that says, "Uh uh, I can't do that!" then walks away from all possibility of action.

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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


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