How many times have you heard the phrase “if we just change the environment, we’ll be able to …”? Simple huh? While arranging furniture may be as simple as exerting some muscles (eg. rows of desks to pods, whole class to centers), it doesn’t necessarily mean that change will happen. Questions pop up like ‘what change do I expect to see’, ‘what outcomes am I affecting’, ‘what am I really trying to achieve’, ‘how do I measure that’… Sometimes what we think a switch in scenery will do is nothing more than a switch in scenery. Changing a mindset is another matter.
There is a plethora of thoughts extended from the work of Carol Dweck on fixed and growth mindsets.
I’ve been thinking about how mindsets relate to professional learning. While there are many ideas about changing the way people talk by adjusting different vocabulary or even flipping the environment, there is little evidence that the desired behaviour truly changes over the long term. Perhaps the leap from the “impossible to possible” is too great for people to manoeuver? Maybe part of the answer lies in the ‘inbetween’; somewhere between the impossible and the possible.
Our reality is an environment built from life experiences and influenced by people that surround us. What we believe controls what we do (how we act). So how do we create an environment where change is not only accepted but celebrated. I believe one element is relationships; those we currently have, those we allow into our circles, and yes, those we keep at arms length. While attempting anything new, we need people who will rally around to support us, who will be the sounding board to give us clarity in thinking (honest feedback), and a place to share the learning (both highs and lows). What I know for sure is that environments that bring together all three have power and are empowering. They grow in ways we cannot accomplish alone. They allow us to disrupt the static and reconstruct, reinvent beliefs and actions that spark genius. In doing so they allow us to go beyond what was once thought impossible to possible. Like ripples in water, ideas generate actions that are tested, reflected and refined.
Wondering how you are moving from impossible to possible? Would love to hear your thoughts.