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Avoid Burnout Tip – Resilience In the Face of Change

April 12, 2010

Like it or not, education is very dynamic – sometimes too dynamic when it comes to the pendulum swing of change.  That is one thing that surely will not change.

The plain and simple fact is that teachers work in an environment under which they have very limited control.  From national policies mandating specific outcomes, to local school board expectations – administrators are the ‘middle managers’ and teachers are truly sandwiched, expected to sometimes be the leader, and sometimes “just do what you’re told.”  It can be very difficult to know when to wear which hat -especially given the nature of education to make pendulum swings regarding teaching technique and methods.

If you are a person who finds change stressful, then this is a problem.  You really have two choices – either find a profession that does not find itself changing so very frequently, or work on your resilience to change from a professional perspective.

In his book, Managing at the Speed of Change, Darryl R. Conner quite directly points out, “Resilience is the pivotal clue that allows the mystery of change to be reframed in an understandable and manageable process.”

There are ways you can empower yourself in a situation where change is occuring.

1.  Attitudes – take a moment to step outside of yourself for a moment.  Assess the attitudes about change in your work environment, and your attitude about change as well.  Whatever the case – try to understand those attitudes through different lenses like those of experience or learning style.

2.  Opportunities – look for opportunities.  These can be opportunities to be involved and influential in the way the change is managed or implemented; opportunities to develop positive relationships with others – remember, you’re not in this alone; opportunities for growth; can you think of some others?

3. Control – be realistic about what you can and cannot control.  Let go of those things you have no control over – your stressing over it won’t change anything related to the problem.  In fact, if you can’t let go of the stress,  you could develop a number of other problems with your mental and physical health.  Figure out what things you really do have control over, and think about how to best manage those.

I invite you to post some ways in which you or someone you have observed have gotten through change (not necessarily work-related) with flying colors.  We’d love to hear about them! I think they might be helpful to those who are going through professional changes themselves.     ~Fran

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