Of all the workshops I have attended and all the workshops I have presented on change management, the truth is it does not really matter until it matters. In other words, until you live through significant change in your career, family or personal life you may not really understand change.
A significant book that my wife gave me on Valentine’s Day in 2007 was Change or Die by Alan Deutschman. Alan talks about heart by pass patients and studies that have been completed by many hospitals and research clinics. Heart by pass patients who know they must change the stress in the life, exercise more, and change eating habits do typically make change for a few months, however, after two years less than 1 out of 9 by pass patients have continued with changes in their stress, exercise or eating habits. If we cannot get heart by pass patients to change when they know that they will die if they do not, then how can we possibly expect principals or teachers to create the changes we need in public education to help their “patients” succeed in learning.
Well, change has recently come to my professional life and in a big way. Starting August 5, I will assume the role of Commissioner of Education for Kentucky. I can’t help but laugh at myself a little. I can remember as a teacher thinking I should become a school administrator because surely anyone could do better. Then as principal I said that I should become a superintendent because surely anyone could do better.Then I said surely a state system could be run better and now.... In every case, I found that you really do not understand a situation and the change that is needed until it really matters. Until you are really in the position, you have no real idea of the challenges and barriers that every level of education faces. In other words don’t judge someone or the job they do until you have walked in their shoes.
My future postings will probably relate the state level leadership experiences. Kentucky is in a very exciting position with regard to education reform. Kentucky led the nation in reform during the ‘90’s and during the last legislative session a major education reform law was passed. Couple that with Race to the Top, the next few years will be very exciting in Kentucky and I look forward to sharing some of the story with readers.
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