When other educators give me their "can'ts," I get just as frustrated. It's not because I don't understand where they're coming from. A lot of the things I present regarding professional development to teachers makes some of them think they have to add on to what they already do, and they don't have time to try something new because they're too busy already doing what's been mandated to them. What teachers don't understand is that I need them to do things in their classrooms differently, not pile something else on.
But I have a question - when will we have time to do what's best for students?
That's the question that comes to mind when I hear the I can'ts (or, even worse, the I won'ts). People tell me their can'ts because they see certain things as obstacles that can't be overcome. But when we recognize that it's not "I can't" but "I can but I need to do it this way to make it work for me" that those obstacles are no longer insurmountable.
This applies not only to teachers but to administrators as well. I think sometimes we see certain aspects of our districts as unchangeable, therefore becoming obstacles to moving our districts forward. For example, not allowing teachers to try new and innovative ways of teaching or curriculum design just because the administration might get questioned by the community. The "You can't do this because the community won't understand it" should become "We can do it, but we'll have to educate our community on why we're making these changes." Is the second option more work, time, and effort? Absolutely. But is it worth it to do what's right for kids? You bet.
We have to change the "can't" mindset - it allows us to place obstacles of our own making in front of us, giving us an excuse not to do what we know needs to be done to move students, staff, and community forward. As Scott McLoed said in a recent post:
"As school leaders, we know that the naysayers will start chiming in as soon as anything new or different is proposed. Instead of allowing the change-adverse to dominate, maybe we could say, 'Look at what’s happening out there. Given our greater resources and our incredible talent, there’s virtually no limit to what we could do. Let’s get started and do some things that are amazing!'"
Exactly. We can't let our own self-imposed obstacles stop us from doing amazing things for students.