The importance of acknowledging change

Change can be very difficult for people to deal with and adults may find this just as challenging as children. These occur in schools on a regular basis as timetables need amending and new initiatives are introduced. It can be useful to explore how staff respond to these, are they met with excitement and enthusiasm or resistance and negativity? A response such as “oh no, how’s that going to work?” may indicate a fear of failure. The reactions may be caused by stress and feeling overworked already and therefore responses from Head teachers that are supportive and understanding rather than dismissive or negating of the feelings expressed result in a more productive working environment being established.

I recently implemented a two part training session in a school where I have worked for a while and the staff are familiar with me. For the first session I moved the tables and put chairs in a semi-circle. On entering the room and noticing the change the staff became anxious and started asking questions about what we were doing and why I had moved the tables. They were restless and unsettled until I explained the reason for the change. The following week I left the room set up with tables and they were far more relaxed. I used both opportunities to explore how they felt and why and then to reflect on how often we may create changes for children in the school day and how we may deal with their feelings about this. This enabled them to examine how their own resistance to the change was about fear and the unknown, and how this impacted on their ability to settle and engage with the session until I had offered an explanation and reassurance. It enabled them to gain a deeper understanding of how children may be feeling at times during the school day when we expect them to manage unpredictable changes with little or no explanation or attempt to understand and support their feelings.

The adults in the above situation responded in a similar way to how children may respond. They were anxious, unsettled and unable to engage with learning until their feelings were supported and acknowledged. This illustrates the importance of a whole school approach to understanding and managing feelings as there are many situations during a school day that may evoke similar reactions from staff.

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