Saturday, 3 February 2018

Reframing Resistance

There are times when we are excited to share a new idea – something we have read or heard about at a workshop – and our colleagues are not interested.  As a consultant, part of my job was to present research-based best practices from the ministry to educators and administrators.  While I might be really enthusiastic about these new resources and new ideas, reaction from educators and administrators could vary from excited to lukewarm to  downright hostile. 

A colleague once gave me this perspective on participants who push back and challenge us: she said these are the people who are on the cusp of change.  They are experiencing some cognitive dissonance and discomfort.  They realize that they should change their practice.  When they push back and challenge us, they are saying, "Convince me.  I know I need to change but change is going to be difficult and uncomfortable, and it would be so much easier to just keep doing what I'm doing.  Convince me." Now I love it when people challenge me, and question me, because I know they are really grappling with the ideas and trying to develop and deepen their own understanding.  They are actively constructing knowledge, not merely acting as a passive recipient.  As an educator, I view myself as a constructivist, so these challenging questions to me are indicators of growth and learning. 

In self-reg we talk about reframing behaviour – is this misbehaviour or stress behaviour?  As a presenter, I can use this same strategy to reframe the behaviour of participants at a session.  Is it really hostility or is it is stress?  Stephen Porgues talks about the need to feel safe in order to learn - how do we create an environment that fosters a sense of safety?  

Now when I encounter someone who appears resistant, I want to try even more to approach them with a self-reg lens.  Who knows what stressors they may have been dealing with before they arrived at the session - an elderly parent at home, an angry parent at school, a traffic jam, an upsetting conversation awaiting them at home that evening. I need to think about where they are on the Thayer Matrix and where I am, and question whether we are ready to engage in the work of learning and facilitating. If not, what do I need to do to create movement on the matrix? How can we help to reduce stressors - providing food and drinks, allowing opportunities for movement and discussion, ensuring the room is a comfortable temperature, etc. Allowing people to ask questions, to challenge us, and to respond with respect and kindness.  If participants need to leave to check in with their school via cell phone to ensure all is well, then providing opportunities to do so.

What other strategies can create a safe learning environment for teachers and for students?

No comments:

Post a Comment