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Patience in Education – No such thing as an overnight change 

October 18, 2019

One of my mentors once told me that public organizations take seven years to make sustainable changes. I was young and naive, and I told him he was wrong. We discussed the need for schools to adapt to the changes occurring in modern society – so I was disappointed to hear him say that it would take that long. I wanted to move quickly and felt that others in the organization did as well. The evidence of the need for systemic change was (and is) everywhere. 

He told me, “A new system that meets the needs of students and is supported by staff and community is not something you can go buy from an education resource company like Houghton Mifflin. Building anything worthwhile in life takes time. First, because it takes time to understand the current issues within a system, second, You must wait for the right opportunity. Third, you need to do the necessary work to bring others along with you.”

What was at the bottom line was this: I needed to develop patience. Meaningful change requires patience.

As I reflect on the last decade-plus as superintendent of Saline Area Schools, I can see the times that I moved quickly on large scale change. The organization resisted it. Details and developing a shared understanding get overlooked. Processing time gets crunched down and causes anxiety within the staff members that are managing the change.  

When one is trying to achieve personal goals and improve opportunities for students, there are moments when the temptation to hit the fast forward button is real. Time seems to stand still.  In general, I can be quite impatient at times. I had to learn that there is a difference between a desire to achieve outcomes and impatience. The former helps; the latter can harm.

Sustainable overnight change does not exist. I have had to remind myself of that whenever I feel impatient. When ambition and personal pride overshadow the intended outcome, sustainable change cannot happen. It has taken me a while to learn that sustained innovation requires patience. 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Greg Green permalink
    October 19, 2019 12:19 pm

    Scott could not agree more… keep grinding!

  2. October 24, 2019 6:33 pm

    Such important insight, Scot. Thanks for sharing it publicly.

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