Can Teachers "Switch?"

In 3 blog posts, I'm going to briefly examine 3 Books about Adult Change. What are the lessons for teachers who want to change (and those who support/supervise/coach them)? 1. Switch

2. Immunity To Change

3. Influencer: The Power to Change Everything

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This is from the review of Switch from USA Today:

The tension between the two is captured best by an analogy used by the University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book The Happiness Hypothesis. And the brothers openly adopt this as their model. Haidt contends that "our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is its Rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader, but the Rider's control is precarious because the Rider is so small compared to the Elephant."

Most of us are all too familiar with situations where the Elephant overpowers the Rider. You've experienced this if you've ever overslept, pigged out, skipped the gym or refused to speak up in a meeting because you were nervous.

Changes often fail because the Rider simply can't keep the Elephant on the road long enough to reach the destination. The Elephant's hunger for instant gratification is the opposite of the Rider's strength, which is the ability to think long-term. The Elephant is the one, though, who gets things done, provides the energy. The Rider provides the planning and direction, but can be a wheel-spinning, over-thinker.

This resonates with me. Much of the coaching in our charter school, and in our teacher residency, is directed towards the Rider. We do much less towards the Elephant.

The review continues:

If you plan to change things. you need to appeal to both the Rider for planning and direction and the Elephant for the energy and passion. The bottom line: Change comes easily when they move together.

To get things done, the Heaths offer a three-part framework that can guide you in any situation where you need to change behavior.

•Direct the Rider. Provide clear direction. What looks like resistance to change is often a lack of clarity. Don't think big picture. Specify manageable immediate steps in the right direction. Point to the destination and explain where you're going and why it's worth it.

•Motivate the Elephant. Connect on an emotional level, to keep the Elephant moving forward. Find the feeling. Cultivate an identity. We can't simply think our way into a new behavior. Shrink the change, so it doesn't spook the Elephant.

•Shape the path. If you want people to change, make the process easier.