My family and I went out for our evening exercise routine this evening. Our three-year-old isn’t feeling the best right now, so he spent most of his time in the stroller, next to his 6-month-old brother. He’s been feeling under the weather the last couple of days, so he knew he wasn’t going to get his usual time to run and chase his big sister. Instead, there he sat, in the stroller, hugging his toy fire-engine which he had insisted on bringing on our walk. He negotiated “his turn” on the way home. He planned to get out of the stroller and push his toy fire engine down the hill. So cute!
You may think that this was just a trivial event, but it wasn’t. It was an evening of learning – deep learning. You see, he kept pushing his fire engine too fast, on an angle, and the fire engine just kept toppling over onto its side and crashing into things. My little guy was getting a little frustrated.
His big sister came to the rescue. Well, not really, she wanted “her turn”. But, he watched his older, more experienced sister very carefully (she’s 6-years-old – and he looked at her as being much older and wiser). She lined up his fire engine carefully in the middle of the sidewalk. When she pushed it down the hill, she gave it just a smooth, gentle push. And, wow, did that fire engine ever race down that hill. It remained on all four wheels, never toppled and raced 4 times farther than my son was able to make it go.
My son watched in awe!
When it was his turn, he copied what his sister had done and was rewarded with his fire engine travelling far and staying on all four wheels. He was so proud of himself!
I stood there, watching them both intently. As I watched, I made a strong connection with what they were doing with what we do as leaders in schools. Or, rather, what we *should* do as leaders in schools.
So often, administrators go into schools and see things they may not agree with or see things that they think need changing and they try to make these changes right away. The truth is, though, most of these things probably don’t need to be changed immediately.
There are other, more important, things that need to be accomplished first. Relationships need to be born and nurtured. The culture and climate need to be observed. People need to get to know the new administrator. They need to understand who this person is: as a person, as an educator and as a leader. They need to know that this person can be trusted. How else will they dare to take risks in their own learning, if they don’t trust the person who may be leading the change?
Administrators who are new to their position, or are wanting to implementing a change, should do so like my daughter showed my son when she pushed the fire truck down the hill: slowly and deliberately, with care and ease. Change is something that should not be rushed. If it is rushed, this sort of change will not last – it will turn, flip and crash in a haphazard manner before you know what happened (just like my son’s fire truck).
Instead, if change is taken with a slower, more deliberate, pace, with a delicate hand (like my daughter so knowingly demonstrated for her little brother), the change will be moved along farther and, ultimately faster. This is sustainable change. It is change that will live on well after the administrator who implemented the change is reassigned.
So, when starting a new position, or when implementing change, seek advice from those who are more experienced and wiser (just like my son did with my daughter). And take a lesson from my son, you need to go slow to go far.