Onwards and upwards

After all, improvement is what drives the economy, keeps us at the forefront of development and perhaps, dare I say it, keeps us interested in our work. However, we often hear about company employees suffering from ‘change fatigue’. When a new initiative is announced, people just don’t feel they are ready to ‘move’ again. So how can we motivate ourselves to deal with the next round of changes coming our way? What factors drive our desire to search out a better way to do something?

In a study on how organisations prepare their staff for change, the researchers found that employees who had higher levels of organisational commitment or positive social workplace relationships (or both) were more open to and prepared for change.

Why change?

So why should we be receptive to new ways of working? Why should we bother to actively search out different approaches? Maybe to keep up with the times, to refresh our thinking, to learn new things, and in education, perhaps to keep one step ahead of our students!

The authors of the previous mentioned study (Madsen, Miller & Cameron, 2005) remind us that “Today, change is critical, complex, and essential; it can also be exciting” (p.214).

What happens if I don’t change?

As educators and researchers, we are always looking and listening to what others have found, what our contemporaries are doing and discussing. We contribute our own knowledge to the debates and discussions through our publications and our teaching. This is change.

If we don’t contribute, learn, grow, change we run the risk of becoming outdated in our discipline knowledge and similarly in our teaching practice. We all want our students to learn, to grow and to challenge the status quo so we need to model this behaviour.

What should I change?

As the new teaching year begins its a time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Notice the little things. How our students reacted to any new ideas we introduced, new learning spaces we used. If you didn’t change anything last year, reflect on areas or topics or activities that students still didn’t quite get. Could you change the way this material is presented, or how students interact with it? Conversely, maybe our students picked up some of the ideas quickly. Could this information be given as pre-work or online, freeing up time to delve into the concept in more detail or apply it to another scenario? For more ideas, see this resource on active learning.

Good teachers embrace change. They constantly reflect on their practice and try new approaches. Even micro-changes mean you are developmentally improving all of the time. Brookfield’s Four Lenses: Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher is a great book if you want to read more on this topic.

The first step….

Pick up your subject outline. Start with a section. It could be the assessments, it could be the content list it could be the program. Take a blank page and divide it into two. Jot down what worked well on one side and what did not, on the other. What could you change to move items from the right column to the left?

Share these ideas with a colleague, with your teaching assistants or tutors. Talk to a learning designer. This may be someone in your faculty with curriculum design experience or it could be someone from IML, an academic liaison or a language and learning liaison or a learning technologist.

Ask yourself a few questions: how do these (or this – even one change is good) changes align with UTS learning.futures? How will the change impact your students? What will you expect to achieve by this change? Write down the answers then revisit them at the end of the session. That will help you think about the next round of change you would like to see.

Practice what you preach

As for me, what am I going to do differently this year? Of course I’m going to eat healthier and do more exercise…. right….doesn’t everyone have these lofty goals at this time of year?! Seriously though I’m going to do less emailing (being reactive). More time thinking (being strategic). And I’m going to take one module and rethink what the students are doing. Where is the focus, me or them. I’m going to try and shift the balance. Become truly student centred.

How about you, what will your change(s) be this Session?

Join the discussion