When Teaching Gets Tough: Getting Others to Change


Slice 5 of 31

This blog entry is my teacher homework for school. In our PLCs (professional learning communities) at school, we are reading When Teaching Gets Tough by Allen N. Mendler. In reading chapter 3 about working with difficult adults, I was asked to chose one of three sections to reflect on from the chapter.

“Getting Others to Change” is the section that most applies to me (this week anyway). This section begins by suggesting to have empathy for others, to be patient, and to commit to change. Finally, this section offers advice as to how to plant the seed of change with the main advice being, “When seeking change, it is sometimes necessary to be satisfied with singles because home runs are a lot harder to hit.” (77)

In anything I do, my inclination is to go boldly, be adventurous and make things happen quickly and successfully. Okay, so then, how am I, the bold adventurous spirit, supposed to be satisfied with a single? C’mon I played sports back in the day–my inclination is to go for the homerun.

Why should I be satisfied with the single?

  1. If enough singles are hit, the team will get around the bases and make a run.
  2. A single is like a small change, and it’s not drastic. A little change is palatable for people; a lot of change is overwhelming for many people.
  3. Smaller changes give people time to think, reflect, and carefully insitute a new practice.
  4. A little change at a time gives people the time and opportunity to see the good in the change and to buy into the changes.
  5. A little change won’t be seen as “one more thing” forced upon people.

So I guess the idea of moving forward more slowly and with more intentionality will do more to ensure the success of improving and impacting literacy. That being the case I am wiling to slow down and take my time. Winning the game isn’t about me hitting homeruns. It’s not about how pretty it looks and how many balls are hit out of the park. It truly is about how the team can work together and perservere. Yes, there will be times of no runs, singles, doubles, triples, and homeruns. As long as we are moving forward and working together as a team, we will achieve great things.

If I switch the sport and look at my challenges back in my day of playing basketball, I realize that my aggressiveness, rashness, and determination sometimes got me in trouble on the court when I fouled out. While I stopped the ball and sometimes kept the other team from scoring, this nature of mine caused me to foul out a lot and then I would land myself on the bench and would no good to anyone. I guess it’s not all about impacting change as suddenly and as drastically as possible; it’s about knowing how to become what your team needs in order to be successful.

While I get all this, I believe I may need a few chalk talks to remind me that “slow and steady wins the race” and that change needs to be focused and deliberate. Plus, I need to realize that a single represents success just as the homerun does and that as long as we’re moving in the direction of change, we are growing and developing and on our way to changing practices in a real and sustaining way.


4 thoughts on “When Teaching Gets Tough: Getting Others to Change

  1. Great points made throughout this whole post. I especially liked your thinking that multiple singles will drive the runs home. Now the tough part is applying this thinking. šŸ™‚


  2. I found your post very interesting – I think your observations about change in general are clear and logical. Thanks for listing the book you are analyzing in your PLCs – I’m gonna check it out.

    I have a hard time working with people who want to make the task at hand harder than it has to be – that drives me nuts.


  3. chargerdaytona

    Those home run hitters also are generally more prone to strike out than those who hit for average….. Single hitters. With change the home run is good but it will result in more strikeouts and a big letdown for change team at school. The consistent hitter who analyzes the swing knowing what will result in a hit will always outperform the other. He builds confidence in others with consistency.


  4. I see your logic, and it makes sense, as usual. I guess I need to take deep breaths, slow down, and keep on keeping on. Plus, I need to recognize the singles that happen around me, and realize that those have forward momentum that will get us around the bases.


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