The 3 Types of Change Mindsets

Every once in a while, at Volunteer U, we get the chance to hear from leaders who are making a difference in their industry.

This week we have a guest post from Jayne, a music teacher at a Private School, and also a doctoral student studying at Southeastern University.

Enjoy Jayne’s perspective on the three mindsets of organizational change!

The fruity smell of markers, black and white composition notebooks, and sharpened pencils to a crisp point are some of my favorite memories of a new school year! There are also some things that I am not so fond of; such as the same old broken computer, used and worn out of date textbooks, and some familiar and unfriendly educators unwilling to change their ineffective teaching strategies.

There are typically three types of teachers/leaders that we run into.

  1. The Life-Cycle Mindset. This is the teacher who has stayed in that position for 20 years, and they plan on retiring from that position with no desire to move up or change.
  2. The Evolutionary Mindset. The music teacher that is willing to change, but it takes years to warm up to the idea.
  3. The Revolutionary Mindset. The music teacher who walks in every new school year coming from some fantastic summer training who is ready to switch everything including a new curriculum and has a Pinterest-perfect classroom.

Let’s take a closer look at these three categories.

Life-Cycle Mindset

According to Burke, the life-cycle theory rests on the metaphor of organic growth and compares an organization to a living organism. It can feel at times, that we as music educators have an expiration date or lifespan on our careers. Music educators spend 25 years perfecting the art of pedagogy, only to be put out to pasture, being traded-in for technology or younger teachers with fresher ideas. Schools may change as they pass through phases, perhaps in both form and function, but it “maintains its identity throughout the phases”. The integral parts of the music profession can be maintained as the life-cycle progresses.

Advantages of a Life-Cycle Mindset:

  • Stays steady and reliable
  • Knows tried and true teaching methods
  • A great human resource for new music teachers

Disadvantages of a Life-Cycle Mindset:

  • Unwilling to change or fix what is perceived as broken by others
  • Not a good team player
  • Viewed as a complainer by peers and administration

Evolutionary Change Mindset

Organization change is an evolving process, and the organization is never static. The most challenging part is convincing colleagues of the evolutionary change mindset. According to Borwick, one or more “change agents” see an opportunity for the organization to improve, “and they pursue it by talking with other people and building a proposal/prototype that is iteratively shopped around”.

Advantages of the Evolutionary Mindset:

  • Change becomes part of the school culture
  • More employees are involved in the design
  • Likely that the change fits the school, understanding the current situation

Disadvantages of the Evolutionary Mindset:

  • Difficult for others to buy into the change
  • Difficult to build momentum
  • Loss of central direction

Revolutionary Change Mindset

Revolutionary change is the change-by-mandate. One will often see this type of change in reaction to a leadership change or a crisis. Currently, in my organization, a K-12 Christian Private school, we are undergoing a revolutionary change. Our population of students has changed from Pastor’s kids and staff kids, to School Choice vouchers and income sensitive families through Florida State Scholarships Step up for Students. As a professional learning community, we have had to remain flexible and competitive, change is necessary for our survival. As a music teacher, the consistency of my student population is no longer stable. There has been a steady sequence of events that have brought permanent change.

Advantages of the Revolutionary Change Mindset:

  • Low risk of the change failing to take effect
  • Change occurs quickly
  • A change will have any resources needed

Disadvantages of the Revolutionary Change Mindset:

  • Change does not become part of the culture
  • Job security for the leader but not employees
  • Often treats employees as expendable

This article is not to convince or persuade anyone about the topic. It is, however, a thoughtful roadmap to the precarious state we now find ourselves in, as schools undergoing an organizational change that has been strenuous. However different in the approach, each mindset, Life-cycle, Evolutionary, or Revolutionary, potentially leads schools and individuals to follow a sequence of events that eventually lead to permanent change.

Which mindset do you hold in your educational practice? How does it affect your classroom and school cultures?

Once you know who you are, you can learn how others operate around you. Change is coming, and you can make it positive or negative. As you go back to school this year, and pack your supplies and prepare your lesson plans, take a moment to reflect on your mindset, YOU CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

Jayne Marie Flores, is a proud lifetime member of Sigma Alpha Iota and started her journey at Ithaca College, NY, Epsilon Chapter in 1993. She is a career music educator, founder of Christian Art and Music Educators Association, Doctoral candidate in Education at Southeastern University of Florida, and proud mom of two wonderful kids. 

2 thoughts on “The 3 Types of Change Mindsets”

  1. Love this article. Music touches everyone, from baby lullabies to Religous services. I pray this beautiful way of expressing us continues to grow and gains the approval and interest of teachers, administrators and students alike.

    1. Thank you, Miriam! Jayne certainly has a way of connecting her music and teaching background to issues impacting all leaders.

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