Welcome Change

The Only Thing Constant is Change

"Welcome changing requirements, even late in a learning cycle, and harness change for the benefit of children and their families."

Change is inevitable in all facets of life. In the classroom, it seems to happen minute by minute. So instead of trying to control it, why not embrace it?

Agile is founded on the ironic premise that the only thing constant is change. This is different from how we usually think of things. But then, how we usually think of things is how we want them to be, not how they are.

There seems to be a natural tendency among humans to believe that their days will proceed according to grand plan or at least a set of reasonable expectations. But the more days you add, the less predictable and reasonable things seem.

On a long project with many variables—or a long school year with many students—change is inevitable. So why not take this into consideration in choosing the way we do our work?

The most difficult changes to handle, of course, are the ones that come to us at the last minute. But they are also the most valuable because, in a way, we've paid the most, in terms of time and effort, to discover them.

Change is not be feared, it is to be responded to. If late change is valuable change, then responses to late change are valuable responses. Haven't we all noticed how more productive we and our students get as deadlines approach? What is it about the week before something is due that is different than all the other weeks? A change. Some kind of change.

This is not to say that daily deadlines are preferred, or that we must plan our interactions down to the minute. If we go that far, we're just asking for something to change and mess the whole thing up.

It's better to assume that some change will occur. You'll get a new student half way through the term. A kid who does well in the first quarter will begin to tank in the second. Your 4th period class will always be a few days behind and your 5th period class will always be a few days ahead. And they'll change.

By welcoming change, by accepting and embracing it, we are better able to respond to it. And by recognizing that late changes are the most valuable, we may recognize that these are the changes we welcome most.


Add your feedback below. To keep track of who is saying what, use an H1 tag (a plus sign "+" in the edit window) to identify yourself. For example:

Steve Peha

I feel very lucky to have had a couple of early classroom experiences in responding to change. One was the very first lesson I ever gave out of a book. I had just a couple of minutes to look over the lesson before class started. But even in that brief review, I could tell that something was wrong. As it turns out, the publisher had written the lesson out of order. So I had to reorder it while I taught it.

Some time later, when I began my consulting work, I realized I wanted to demonstrate my ideas for teachers in their own classrooms. Teaching 6-8 classes in a day, with no idea what those classes would be, meant that I would be working without any plan at all.

This kept me highly alive to change. Even seeing three 4th grade classes in a row, I knew I would encounter something different in each one. Having little to count on forced me to count on my skills of observation, my ability to improvise, and the creation of a large repertoire of instructional patterns I could instantly adapt to many situations.

The other big lesson I learned was when and how to bomb. Lessons fall flat. They just do. Even our best ones. And when that happens, it's better to fail fast and get on to something else. These days, I can often bomb out of a lesson and into something else without anyone even knowing. And sometimes, the changes I encounter are so unexpected that I am truly caught off guard. That's when I need to be as agile as I can be.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License