Throughout my career I have been privy to a number of conversations, debates, and discussions amongst educators on various educational initiatives and approaches. During these discussions I have heard people refer to “The System” or “The District” in ways such as, “The System needs to change” or “The District ought to do something about that!” It’s as though “The System” is some separate entity that we are distant from. What we need to realize is that WE ARE THE SYSTEM and if something needs changing or something needs to be done, WE need to be first-in-line to act.
Now some of the changes that you deem necessary will be within your circle of influence. As such, you will likely be able to make these changes rather quickly in order for you to grow and become the kind of professional that you want to become. In other situations we see that changes are needed but we don’t hold a position that puts us inside that particular circle of influence. For example, you might identify something within the district that needs to change from a practice or policy perspective, however, not having a position at Central Office may lead you to believe that there is nothing you can do or that your opinion doesn’t matter. For me, this is far too passive and emphasizes position rather than influence. Leadership is about influence, not title, and anyone can make that happen and everything is within our circle of concern. Stephen Covey once wrote:
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a transformer. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.”
If we don’t hold a position of authority or a potential change is outside our circle of responsibility then we need to bring the message to those that do and make it loud and clear what it is we believe is necessary for our organization to grow.
While doing so, it is also important to bring that message of change to those who need to hear it in a way that is respectfully grounded in ideas that are sound and supported. Using sensational language, putting people on the defensive, or attacking people personally (rather than focusing on ideas) will only serve to create more challenges and roadblocks along the way.
You are the system, you can make a difference, and you could be the reason why your classroom, school, district, or even province/state changes forever. Don’t sit back and wait for others to do what you know needs to happen. The time is now and the person is YOU!