October 20th, 2020

Navigating change, uncertain times


By Submitted Article on March 11, 2020.

It seems the one constant in education is change. This is hardly surprising given that in many ways change is at the core of what we do as educators. Most of our professional work is centred on supporting students as they navigate the many changes that occur moving from childhood to adulthood.

In addition, education takes place in a world where the pace of change seems to be accelerating at an exponential rate. A good example of this is technology. Over the course of my career, the impact technology has on our students and the classroom has increased dramatically. On top of all this, we are seeing significant alterations to the foundational structures of education in Alberta through a new funding model and proposed new curriculum.

While change can be a good thing, there is little doubt that it also creates uncertainty. So how do educators deal with constant change and the lack of predictability it creates? The first step is to focus on purpose. When everything around you is changing, you can find stability and reassurance by focusing on your core mission. In education our purpose is clear, to help every student reach their full potential. Having such a powerful purpose is a great counterbalance to the negative elements associated with change.

The next is mindset. Typically, educators have little to no control over many of the variables that influence their professional lives. What we do have control over is how we respond to these variables. We need to be realistic and recognize that education is complex and there will always be uncertainty created by change. However, we must also retain confidence that we are up to the task and have the ability to positively impact all of our students in spite of external factors.

Finally, we must work together. Collaboration has always been a critical component to success in education. It is even more important these days. None of us alone has all of the answers, but together we have the ability to overcome great challenges.

How do I know that purpose, mindset and collaboration are the keys to managing change? Because I see these characteristics every day in the amazing staff we have in Palliser Regional Schools. They are deeply committed and work incredibly hard to help each one of our students reach their potential. It is because of them that we can all be confident we will successfully navigate these uncertain times and our students will continue to benefit from a world-class education.

Mike Nightingale is Deputy Superintendent of Palliser Regional Schools.

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