Monday, February 28, 2011

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. New York: Broadway Books.

Book’s main ideas/arguments:

This book makes the claim that you can change anything if you follow three principals: direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path. “Direct the rider” is in reference to our rational side. This is our side that analyzes, is reflective, looks at the long tem goals, and consciously makes decisions. “Motivate the elephant” is in reference to our emotional side. This is our side that is instinctive, has feelings, looks at the short-term goals, and enjoys instant gratification. “Shape the path” is in reference to the “critical moves” we make to adjust the environment, help people develop productive habits, and inspire people to make the change. You must shape the path, no matter what the rider or elephant are doing, for any type of change to occur.
In order for dramatic change to occur, all three components must be present. The rider needs the change to be practical and purposeful. The elephant needs the change to be emotional; people need to be able to “feel” the change and connect with it. Without a clearly shaped path (i.e. step-by-step instructions, training, support, leaders), change will not occur in any extraordinary way.

Particular parts/ideas that struck me:

I liked how this book was nicely organized and easily accessible to the reader. Several anecdotes are presented to help the reader connect with the ideas being presented as well as help the reader envision what change looks like in various environments. I could definitely connect with the teaching and educational anecdotes being presented, but I also enjoyed seeing how the same issues and difficulties (that require change) are apparent in every setting. I could easily see foresee how I could apply information from different work settings to my own. I liked how positive the book is. After reading it, I feel that I could change any situation if I really wanted to. It’s all about the outlook and perspective you have.

Quotes and Questions:

“Murphy wasn’t content with Bobby’s vague conclusion that Ms. Smith is “nicer.” He kept probing until Bobby identified several things about Ms. Smith and her class that seemed to help him behave well. For instance, Ms. Smith always greeted him as soon as he walked into class. (Other teachers, understandably, avoided him.) She gave him easier work, which she knew he could complete (Bobby has a learning disability). And whenever the class started working on an assignment, she checked with Bobby to make sure he understood the instructions.” (p.43)
-How am I differentiating my interactions with my students who tend to be behavior issues?
-What are the little things we can do to change a student’s attitude about learning and school?

“And that’s why decision paralysis can be deadly for change—because the most familiar path is always the status quo.” (p.53)
-How I am making sure that I don’t fall back on status quo?
-In a career of so many choices and options, how can we eliminate decision paralysis and teach out students with a simple and purposeful intent?
-How do students react when they are presented with an abundance of choice?

“What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.” (p.53)
-What are some strategies I can implement to ensure that I am reducing the “lack of clarity?”
-What can we do when an individual will not take the initiative to learn something new?

“The ambitious and specific goals was probably quite useful to the teacher in her planning. But it obviously won’t be useful in lighting a fire in the hearts of first graders.” (p.74)
-How am I using lesson planning to reach the “hearts” of my students?
-Are my specific goals more useful to my students or me?

“When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there.” (p.93)
-How can I apply this idea to my action research?
-How can I plan out project benchmarks when the project might take a different turn down the road?
-How do my project benchmarks help the “middle” become less chaotic and unorganized?

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