Change Is Necessary; So Too Is Continuity

ImageThey say the biggest challenge a college football player has when going to the NFL is adjusting to the speed. The greatest NFL players often talk about how they see plays develop in slow motion, giving them the time to read plays and react accordingly.

I completely understand that analogy. I was a mobile disc jockey for 18 years—weddings, parties, school dances. I remember when I first started out (back in the days of records and cassettes). I would put a song on, and then search in panic for the next song I was going to play while the needle seemed to move across the record at blinding speed.

That kind of panic causes a DJ to make some poor choices.

Blame It on the Rain?

Mmmbop?

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree?

All because a panicked DJ needed to avoid dead air, and when the sand flows through the hourglass the judgment becomes more questionable.

Bus as the years went by, DJing started to become slow motion for me. I might not even start thinking about the next song until ten seconds remained in the one playing, and I would be able to find an awesome tune, cue it up, and have it perfectly mixed without breaking a sweat.

Education is similar. People new to positions—teachers, principals, superintendents–often see their world moving in fast motion. This can cause some ill-advised decisions–not out of malice or incompetence–but out of sheer pressure of the ticking clock.

But as one gains experience, the world starts to move in slow motion. Stressful situations become more manageable. Instead of panicking, the seasoned educator makes smarter decisions based on whatever the situation may call for.

For this reason, continuity in education is vital. Constant turnover of staff may bring new perspectives, but it is not without its cost. As a school leader, my job is to provide whatever support I can to new staff to help them see the play develop more slowly, and also encourage them to stick around for the long haul.

Change is good. I believe that deeply. But in a perfect world we change the things we do while maintaining continuity in the people who do it.

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