I admit it, I am a pushover for New Year’s resolutions. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s I spend time reflecting on how I can be a better educator. However, making resolutions and change can be daunting. Recently I read an amazing book produced by renowned design firm IDEO called Human Centered Design. It’s all about creating positive change, by design, on a community and global scale. The book is available HERE for free! While reading the book I couldn’t help but think “this is also a great way to make change and resolutions in my own educational practice!” Set aside an hour or two, get out your notebook and follow this design process to make positive change stick:
1. Articulate what’s working and build on it.
Look back over the last year. Celebrate your victories, epiphanies, little moments of satisfaction. Write them down. If you want to go deeper, place them in chronological order. Are there any patterns? Are there any replicable moments that can serve as “scaffolding” for the New Year?
2. Articulate what you would like to transform.
What do you want to do more of? Less of? Start doing? Stop doing? Keep doing? Again, write it down!
3. Once you narrow down to a few critical things what you want to change, use the Human Centered Design process to answer these three questions:
- Is the change desirable? In other words, do I really want this? Be super honest. Do not pursue a change you don’t truly desire.
- Is the change feasible? In other words, do I have the resources needed to create this change? Do an internal and external environmental scan. Are you in a place in life where you can add more professional development, recreate your classroom, take on a leadership role? You may truly desire it, but is it feasible given your current energy level and physical resources? This isn’t meant to scare you. It’s meant to motivate you to be serious about the change you wish to create! What do you really need in the upcoming year to feel refreshed and renewed as and educator. Focus on that.
- Is the change viable? Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to transition into it because it affects other people – your students, your family and your colleagues. As desirable and feasible for you as it is, the change has to get buy-in from your stakeholders and customers. Yes, your students, family and colleagues are your stakeholders and customers.
4. Finally as you seek to make your resolutions – your changes – stick, answer these crucial questions:
- Hear – Who needs to hear you regarding the changes you want to make?
- Create – What do you need to create, mentally and physically, to make it happen? An attitudinal shift? An accountability partner for your exercise plan? A schedule for obtaining your graduate degree? A letter stating your interest in a leadership role?
- Deliver – What are the deliverables? What will the end result of your change look like? How will you know you have been successful. It’s important to articulate your future and have a firm grasp of how it will actually be to accomplish the change.
I have never met a committed educator yet who isn’t excited about improvement and making life for themselves and their students better. Follow these Human Centered Design guidelines and you will be amazed at how your resolutions – your positive changes – stick!
Rob Levit, an acclaimed musician and artist and 2013 Innovator of the Year from the Maryland Daily Record, has created award-winning innovative “Life-Skills Through The Arts” programs for adults with mental illness, the homeless, adults in drug and alcohol recovery, youth in domestic/sexual abuse counseling, foster children, hospital patients, veterans and many more. He is currently Executive Director of Creating Communities and was the first Artist-In-Residence at Hospice of the Chesapeake, where he created and infused healing activities for the well-being of staff, families and patients. Email Rob.