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Helping Get Over Our Fear of Change

Posted on 1/23/2020

FEARImage by John Hain from Pixabay

The 40th Annual Future of Education Technology Conference just concluded last week in Miami, Florida. FETC is well known as a venue where the newest edtech tools are showcased, attendees can learn about the latest trends in edtech, and many presenters discuss how to use edtech tools in schools and districts that help students and teachers acquire digital literacy skills for the classroom, the workplace, and beyond. (You can learn about some of these trends from this SmartBrief article on FETC and our recent OTAN article on trends for 2020.)

Technology is a considerable driver for change, not just in schools and workplaces but in all aspects of our lives. (5G and the change it will enable will be upon us before we know it.) With change, though, comes fear. Fear can stop change or give the illusion of stopping change. However, we can’t let our fear of technology get in the way of preparing our students for their lives beyond adult education.

In his article Overcoming Fear of Change, Eric Sheninger discusses the sources of our fears and how we might work to overcome them. Sheninger surmises that for most people, change creates an anxiety around failure, people settle into a comfortability in where they are that is hard to leave, or they fall victim to TTWWADI, or “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Any one of these can stop an effort to change in its tracks. Sheninger borrows from Gustavo Razzetti’s article This Is the Reason Why People Resist Change to pinpoint fears associated with change (and ask yourself if you’ve seen any of these among your colleagues in a staff meeting when they are asked to adopt a new edtech tool):

  • Fear of the uncertain
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being ridiculed
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of inadequacy
  • Fear of the extra work
  • Fear of being happy

So, how does a person tackle these fears? It’s important to recognize that we have choices and we don’t have to be stuck in our fears. Sheninger suggests we look at Lucia Giovannini’s 7 steps for overcoming fear of change as a possible solution:

  1. Life is change, and change means life – Change is an opportunity to grow, improve, and learn new things. Change doesn’t have to be a punishment.

  2. Accept the situation, but don’t resign yourself to it – We may not like our circumstances, but we don’t have to be a victim of them.

  3. See failure as something positive – Our students are living examples of failing and learning from their mistakes to make things correct or better. Why can’t we be like our students?

  4. Celebrate every little success.

  5. Be responsible – Take the initiative when situations present themselves in which we can act and bring change into our lives.

  6. Be patient – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  7. Step outside your comfort zone – We can make small changes in aspects of our lives that will help us take the first steps outside this “safe place.”

Change is difficult, but a teacher’s fear of change has ripple effects that touch the lives of our adult ed students who also do not get an opportunity to change and grow. OTAN is here to help you grow professionally (and make technology less scary!) for your benefit and the benefits of your students. Please contact us at support@otan.us or call us at 916-228-2580 for a variety of training workshops.

Article: Overcoming Fear of Change by Eric Sheninger at A Principal’s Reflections

Article: FETC 2020: A glimpse at the next decade of edtech by Katie Parsons at SmartBrief

OTAN article: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN180031 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.