This is a question we could ask ourselves almost daily, on any given topic. But before we consider the reasons, let’s take it back to the beginning. When you bring home your newborn infant, do you expect that precious bundle to remain the same for all time? Would that even be a consideration? Of course not. Let’s relate the idea of change to that new bundle. No one wants to stay in the infant stage throughout their entire life, so why would we want to stay in a stagnate state either?
According to Deutschman (2007), humans tend to long for stability. We tend to find our identity early on and in an effort to protect that identity we resist the very change that causes growth. But are we happy in this stability or do we crave more? At what point does boredom kick in and catapult us into the unknown? For most of us, are we ready to embrace the changes coming or do we struggle with every step?
With change comes uncertainty and risks. When we are comfortable and are craving that stability we are less likely to take risks that will lead to change. I have to wonder, if given the choice, would some of us consider staying in that infant stage to have everything done for us in place of the satisfaction that trying new things brings. Speaking for myself, “NO WAY!” Boredom is not my friend, and it is most certainly to set in when the wheels of change stop. New adventures are awaiting and I’m usually more than willing to see what is over the ridge.
Gardner (2012) says that change is needed when we stop enjoying what we do. This may be true for some, but I have found that to reach a new potential doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy what I do anymore, but yet I crave to improve upon the process. Perhaps Carol Dweck (2016) makes a more than valid point with all her research on mindsets. When we have a growth mindset we welcome change and use it for our benefit. The opposite is true when we have a fixed mindset.
Having a growth mindset sets the stage for success in all areas of life. Believing in one’s potential can go a long way in determining success. But why do some of us possess this and others do not? In her studies Dweck (2016) praised one group of students for their ability and another group for their effort. The group praised for the effort consistently wanted harder tasks and the group praised for their ability didn’t want a harder task because they fear failure. So does it make sense to say that positive thinking can reap greater rewards than negative thoughts? Perhaps the fear of failure prevents us from making the changes that we believe will make us uncomfortable.
In order to grow we must move out of our comfort zone. Let’s apply this to the classroom. When we have a filing cabinet full of lesson plans that we reuse year after year we deny ourselves the potential to grow and learn along with our students. When we break from “the way we’ve always done it,” and try new things we have experienced a change. This change will move us toward a growth mindset and also move our students toward a growth mindset as well.
In my first teaching assignment, I was all excited about getting out of college and trying the things I had learned. I had some rather innovative professors in college and got a good base, especially in the subject of literacy. My balloon was deflated when the teacher next door came in and told me which work sheet went in each center. Worksheets in centers? Who does that?
I had a wake-up call a few weeks back when my 21-year-old son, who works in HVAC, made the comment to me that kids his age wouldn’t work. I had been aware that his employer had been looking for someone to work, but I didn’t realize that they couldn’t find anyone who could fill the bill. It did make me wonder if this is how the “worksheet generation” turned out. I suppose you can learn to fix an air conditioner using worksheets, but I’ll be calling the person who learned it by doing it.
Now I understand that I might have made some people upset over these comments, but as I said earlier, we have to get out of our comfort zone to grow. Come grow with me!
Deutschman, A., (2007). Change or die: The three keys to change at work and
in life. Harper Collins e-books.
Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: The new psychology of success, how we learn to fulfill our potential.New York, NY, Penguin Random House.
Gardner, A., (2012). Change your words, change your world. Carlsbad, CA, Hay House Inc.
Tammy Crews is a Local Leader for Professional Educators of Tennessee and currently teaches 4th grade at Randolph Howell Elementary. Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited.