Waves of Change


Cape Ray, Newfoundland

When I first became an Early  Literacy Coach I sat through training on coaching and change. I was extremely grateful. It was intimidating to think of encouraging change with colleagues. Fast forward 9 years later and I still am intrigued and puzzled by change and the role I play. In my M.Ed. course on Curriculum and Change it felt like a lot of the conversations always came back to who or what to blame for a lack of change: “It has to start with the teacher.”, “follow these steps”, “system structures need to be in place”. I didn’t disagree but I felt like something was missing. Change wasn’t so neat, so isolated or so simple. 

So one evening this summer, as I stood on the edge of a cliff 30 feet above the ocean and watched wave after wave crash into the rocks, I had an epiphany: that is the change I want to be a part of. A wave so powerful you can see and hear it feet away and yet so calming it instantly makes sense. A wave that isn’t a product of just one right element but many that have come together at just the right time.

Proud of myself and my aha moment I trudged along and then George Couros came to speak to our board this week around system change. My beautiful illustration seemed to be a little rocky. While chatting with a colleague (@susancampo) I realized perhaps I was mesmerized by the waves of innovation that I was missing system change. It’s hard not to watch the waves rolling in, to celebrate those brilliant moments that you have been waiting for and encouraging, but is system change really that glamorous? Does it come in one fail swoop or is it a little more like the beach glass underneath that changes after being hit time and time again by the crashing waves.

Am I so focused on the waves of innovation that I am missing system change?

The hard part is that the beach glass takes years to produce, the waves come much more frequently. It also takes more time and effort to find the beach glass. I’m afraid impatience takes over at times. Both are important, both are marvelous to watch. If I truly want to be a small part of change moving forward maybe I need to give them both an equal amount of my attention. Sometimes I worry that I focus so much on the waves of innovation that I’m missing the beach glass.

Maybe I just need to sit back and take in the whole landscape.

Love to hear what you think!


4 thoughts on “Waves of Change

  1. Loved your article, and the analogy. Enjoying your writing Tina. Maybe it’s both the big crashing waves and the beach glass. One creates the other, so to speak. Without the innovators (the crashing wave), where would the followers (beach glass) be? Kind of like Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point argument re: The Law Of The Few. He argues that: “Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur”. It seems to me from what I’m observing around our district that maybe we are on a tipping point. Time will tell.

    • Thanks Laurie. I definitely agree we need the waves. I am going to have to go back to Gladwell’s Tipping Point. It definitely feels like we are in a moment of change. It’s very exciting.
      Thanks again!

  2. Pingback: ALL Speeds Ahead – Lessons on Change from the Ocean | Miss Kit Kat

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