There are many analogies that can be made about educators, but one that I've heard recently stuck with me. I've been in school leadership for the last 14 years and have worked with lots of teachers. They range from passionate go-getters, to competent, compliant educators to those who are simply stuck. Consider the attitudes, motivation, and actions of the teachers that you know. I bet they will fall into one of these categories. It is important to recognize that all of these people are a part of your organization. The key is to figure out how to connect with each and move on a successful path for your school or district.
These are the teachers who are always one step ahead, zipping through the waters with ease and often leaving others in their wake. They don't mean to leave others behind, but they are interested in trends in education and pride themselves on being connected educators "in the know". When presented with a new initiative they go full speed ahead. If you want to grab on, they are willing to show you the way, but you better be ready to move forward. As an administrator, these are the teachers I love! They are curious, creative, and forward-thinking. They want to try new approaches and new technologies because they are excited about what it could provide to their students. The speedboats don't get bogged down in rules and regulations, once they know better, they want to do better. (Thanks, @nankr1120 !)
The tug boats are consistently strong classroom teachers--they can hold their own in the water, chug-chugging along. Progress may be at a slower pace than the speedboats, but they are moving. Sometimes, they connect with a speedboat and they are off making waves, too. These teachers need our encouragement. They need to know we are with them on this voyage and together, we will exceed our goals.
Imagine a huge barge inching down the river. It will get to its destination, but at its own time and pace. There's not much to make it move faster or take another path, but try as you might--keep pushing it forward. The barge is just fine with waiting for the speedboats to zip ahead and then report back with the success of an initiative. There's just no urgency to rush.
These won't be your leaders of innovation, but school leaders must support the barges through their journey and continue to communicate the end goal. Connect the barge with a tugboat and now you might have some momentum.
A heavy, immovable weight stuck down into the depths. You aren't moving this one--and they're not afraid to tell you so. They've watched many things pass them by and they are content right where they are. Focus on ways keep all the other boats moving. Don't let them get pulled down by the anchor.
Teachers--which one are you? If you are not where you want to be, how might you change it?
School Leaders--how do you support each of these? Can you lift the anchors? How to you respond to your barges? How do you continue to fuel your speedboats?