Over this ongoing series of eight posts, we are identifying and addressing the seven primary barriers to changing instructional practices and the appropriate response by leadership. I present to you Part 4 in The Response to Barriers Series – Choice.
Choice is a good thing… isn’t it? Conventional wisdom says,“Yes, and the more choice the better.”
But from a leadership perspective, you need to reexamine how you implement choice. Because choice can (and often does) represents a significant barrier to change. It does so in one obvious way and one counter-intuitive way. First the obvious.
No Choice. When you give a person “no choice” you are sowing the seeds of resentment. It doesn’t matter if it is “right” or not. Choice equals a level of control. If I operate in an environment of no choice/no control, in short order I will either, shut down, hate you or become a master of subterfuge. But here is the interesting fact, give me a choice, even if it is the choice between “the rock and the hard place,” and I will willingly engage because I picked my option.
This means that instead of presenting something to person as a “You don’t have a choice” situation, you would be better served by pointing out that the choice is either engaging in the hard work or dealing with a harsher option. Some might point out that this is just semantics. I would argue that it is managing perception, and as we are often told, “Perception is reality.”
Just as “no choice” is bad, so is having too many choices. The human brain can easily pick between Choice A and Choice B. It a simply a case of determining the relative pro’s and con’s. Add Choice C and the job gets a little more difficult, but the final selection is more satisfying. Continue to add choices beyond A, B or C and there are too many variables to sort through. The brain gets stuck in false analysis loops. Now instead of determining that A is better than B, and C is better than A, all we can see is that whatever we picked can’t match up with the combined positive attributes of all the other choices. Faced with this dilemma, we either do nothing or live with nagging “buyer’s remorse.”
At a school leadership level, what this means is that when we tell staff, “Just implement a best practice, pick one of the many,” we make it almost impossible for a teacher to pick any practice to try to implement.
Significantly narrow the choice. “In your lessons this week, have your students either Talk or Write.”
That is a choice that can be made quickly and with confidence.
Here is the good news, if staff are stuck due to the issues of choice, you are a critical part of the solution.
RTB – Part 4: Response to Choice
RTB – Recap
Think. Work. Achieve.
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