146/365 Do we want what our students want or what we want our students to want?

Unmistakable Impact by Jim Knight

“Not surprisingly,” Jim Knight writes in Chapter 2 of his Unmistakable Impact, “when the thinking is taken out of teaching, teachers resist.”

Knight is correct. It is not surprise. While he discusses partnerships throughout the chapter, though, it is refreshing to be reminded of the need for equity of partnerships.

“A Simple Truth About Helping: People aren’t motivated by other people’s goals,” Knight writes a few pages later.

I struggled with this one when I returned to my notes. I like to think that I am motivated by other people’s goals. As a classroom teacher, I was always asking my students what they wanted to do, be, answer, etc. Wherever possible, I would then find ways for thinking, speaking, reading, and writing to help them accomplish those goals. I realize now, I wasn’t motivated by their goals, not immediately. I was motivated by my goals of developing their skills as they related to English Language Arts through the lens of what they wanted.

Even now, it’s how I work with teachers and others in the district. It’s my most common answer to the question, “How do I get folks to use X?”

My answer: Find the the thing about what they do that is the most frustrating, most broken, most inefficient; and show them how X can make that better.

In the questions for discussion as our district’s Learning Leaders consider this chapter, we are asked, “Many of our schools and teachers have been successful, so why change?”

I suppose that’s easy from the outside and difficult from the inside. We change because there’s always something on which we can improve. We are resistant to change because we feel have gotten where we need to go. Maybe there’s a middle ground. Maybe we resist change because we simply need a break to collect our faculties, consider our resources and plot the course. Stopping at good is often really pausing to plan for great.



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