March 14, 2018
A nudge is a gentle push in the right direction. This thinking is informed by a few things. I’ll let you in on them in the beginning. I am a big fan of podcasts. This podcast, Nudge: Ted Radio Hour/ NPR, was recommended to me by a member of our fourth grade team. It’s a longer podcast nearly an hour, but can be broken to shorter stories. These stories contain snippets of Ted Talks and discussion with their subjects: Richard Thaler, the author of Nudge and Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset. I also have been considering the change model outlined in the book Switch.
So what does the author of Nudge say about change? If you want to encourage people to do something, make it easy.
The authors of Switch claim change is hard. There are two systems at play in all change for folks: the emotional system and the rationale system. That’s why people can make a big decision like marriage, but have difficulty with diets.
I believe I am a professional nudger and change agent. It’s a wonder that anyone ever talks to me. My husband says about me pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. I would say, hear that tiny voice over your shoulder that says give it a go. What’s to lose?
It’s true I want change. Sometimes the educators and students I work with do not. That’s not it actually. It’s partially that they don’t understand what change might do to improve their instruction and they believe that what they are currently doing is working for their students.
It’s might also be about risk. Risk is hard to take, difficult to try. Risk is messy.
The book Switch poses the miracle question,
“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?
Two things about this. The changers have to see a problem, something they want to change. Then the changers have to be able to envision what better looks like. Clare Landrigan wrote in her blog a few weeks ago about her own miracle question, If successful we will… That envisioning, drawing the light on what we view as success, might be all we need. That glimpse of what is wanted draws us toward it.
Here is my formation of this question, What is the first small sign you would see, that would make you think “well, something must have happened, the problem is gone“. This question doesn’t ask you to describe the miracle itself, it asks to identify the tangible signs that the miracle happened. I also like this question, When was the last time you saw just a little bit of the Miracle, even if just for a short time?
That’s what I look for, that little bit of the miracle, the bright spot. My friends, if we are going to change anything, students’ writing volume, reading engagement, curriculum, school culture, we have to start with that bright spot. We have to recognize them, understand them, keep them in our field of view.
To my writing community of Slicers, thank you. To Two Writing Teachers and all involved, thank you for creating this community. This day 14 of a 31 day Slice of Life Writing Challenge. Read some amazing writing here.