Push, pull or nudge

How do you make change happen without losing social capital, the trust, collaboration and cooperation that exists among you, other teachers and administrators?

If you want to bring about change, there are basically 3 ways to do it, says Andy Hargreaves in a recent webinar on building professional capital in school.

You can push, pull or nudge.

When you meet with resistance from teachers on adopting iPads or portfolios, you might push.  You’re confident  they’ll genuinely like the iPad or portfolios once they adopt them, they just don’t know it yet. You push them so that they will change their practices and discover the benefits for themselves.

Of course, some people are more comfortable with pushing than others. Many teachers and administrators would rather pull people into change.

You pull people into change when you create discussion groups on curriculum or grading and expose them to the enthusiasm of other teachers and inspiring new ideas. You hope this enthusiasm and inspiration will eventually draw them into change.

To nudge is to influence people without taking away their choices. Instead of banning junk food in the cafeteria, for example, it’s putting the fruit at eye level so that students will be more likely to reach for fruit rather than for a candy bar.

Should you push, pull or nudge people?

There is no right answer. It depends on the people and the situations. But, in general, Andy says, you should push when you must, pull whenever you can and nudge all the time.

If your school has safety violations and your students’ health in jeopardy, you must push. In less pressing situations, some people can be effective when they push, but be careful your staff doesn’t see it as shoving or bullying.

Pulling is often a better bet. Connect resistant teachers with enthusiastic teachers who can be role models for a new teaching practice. Express your own enthusiasm and support for the new teaching practice.

Nudge by the language that you use every day. If you value something, communicate it 1000 times a day, Andy says. If you want to promote the use of learning skills, post a list of those skills in every classroom. Then let the children nudge the teacher by their questions and interest.

Think of nudges as giving people a lot of default options much as a human resources department might make the better pension plan the default option in employee forms.  Employees are following your strong recommendation but it leaves them the choice.

Webinar with Andy Hargreaves

Opening the classroom door: How to build collective responsibility for the success of all teachers and students in your school

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