Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Chapter 6: Shrink the Change

Chapter 6 is all about continuing to motivate that darn elephant. 

I’ve been wedding planning for about six months now, and let me tell you…motivating the Elephant gets harder as time goes on. I’m seriously considering running away with my fiancĂ© to Las Vegas and getting married by an Elvis impersonator. Seriously speaking though, wedding planning is tough!

My Elephant was extremely motivated when the ring first landed on my finger. I searched Pinterest for wedding ideas and was delighted to call and set up appointments with prospective vendors. However, as I reach “the year of my wedding,” I find my desire to complete tasks dwindling. The wedding just seemed SO big as I looked at my checklist of things to do before August 6th. After reading this chapter, I thought of the snowballing debt concept, and tried to implement it into my planning. Instead of looking at one huge checklist, I organized it into categories like “Catering,” “Flowers,” and “Centerpieces.” I realized I only had a few things left to do before I knocked some of those big chunks of planning out of the way. (I mean seriously, if I never have to look at another centerpiece idea again…I think I’ll survive!) Doing this helped me get rid of a few bigger pieces to the planning, and it helped me realize I was “20 percent of the way to the destination, not 0 percent” (p. 128). What a feeling that is! Recognizing you aren’t completely drowning in your plans truly does help motivate. I think coming to the realization that, “To motivate change, you’ve got to plan for [those smaller milestones],” helped me get my butt in gear to finish this wedding planning (p. 136). Telling myself, “Just one more phone call and I can be done with transportation,” or “I just need to buy this ribbon and I’ll be done with the ceremony location decorations,” feels awesome!

To use a more school-related concept, this chapter had me thinking about how we spend time teaching kids things they’ll never officially use in their future. We all teach something in our subject areas where we laugh and think, “Great…how am I going to get my kids to buy in to this?!” When the authors said, “The Elephant hates doing things with no immediate payoff,” this is what I thought of (p. 130-31). Kids look to learn things they can use right this second. They don’t consider what they’ll need “for the future.” The future is a made up place where kids need to learn how to use their words and write in complete sentences. They hate that. In AIS, I spend large amounts of time expanding vocabulary knowledge. I don’t give kids definitions and say, “We’re having a quiz next Friday.” I show them one word at a time, in conjunction with videos, comic strips, and classroom activities. At the beginning of the year, every kid flips through their vocabulary dictionary and says, “No way am I learning all these words. This is impossible.” I “shrink the change.” I only give 12-15 words per marking period, and we review each separately. I don’t go in alphabetical order. I give short, meaningful quizzes, instead of massive unit tests. I break down the knowledge first, so my kids don’t have to do it themselves. Just yesterday, I had a kid tell me, “Ms. Herbert, this quiz was way too easy today.” I said to him, “Are you sure it was easy? Or was it that you learned all the words, so it seemed easy?” It’s amazing how a simple change on my part completely transforms the way my students perceive their learning. (And for the record, you never hear an AIS kid saying vocabulary is “easy.”) J

Shrinking the change is one of those concepts that makes you wish you thought of it first because it's so simple. I love the idea, and find it easy to use with kids. I just need to get better at doing it for my own life. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Chapter 6: “Shrink the Change”

In this chapter we learn from several interesting examples that big changes come from a succession of small changes.  The elephant is reluctant to start a daunting task. The challenge is to get the elephant moving by shrinking the change. 
One example of shrinking the change was the loyalty card promotions for a free car wash.  In one promotion the customer received a stamp for each car wash purchased, and then received a free car wash after filling out the loyalty card with 8 stamps.  In the other promotion, the customer needed to fill the loyalty card with 10 stamps, but the card already had two stamps on the card.  To get a free car wash in either promotion, customers needed to buy 8 car washes, but customers were more motivated in the second promotion because they were already 20% of the way to their goal of getting their free wash rather than starting from scratch.  It is more motivating to be partly finished with a longer task than to be at the start of a shorter one.
Another example of shrinking the change is a fundraising campaign that is not publicly announced until contributions making up 50% of the goal have been received. People are more apt to contribute when they think the goal is within reach.
I can relate to the dreaded housecleaning example.  Starting the unpleasant task of cleaning house is worse than continuing it.  Facing a daunting task, the instinct is to avoid it.  Using the “five-minute room rescue“ technique  is shrinking the change.  The smaller goal is a cleaner house rather than a clean house.   At the end of the five minutes, achieving small, visible goals creates momentum to keep cleaning.
Personally, I find wearing my Fitbit Flex to track the number of steps I take in a day helps motivate me to achieve 10,000 steps by shrinking the change into five smaller goals of 2000 steps.  When just one of five LED lights are blinking on my Fitbit, I know I am between 0 and 2000 steps. The closer I get to 2000 steps, the faster the light blinks. When I reach 2000 steps, the second light displays to show I am between 2000 and 4000 steps. When I see one of the lights blinking fast, I am motivated to keep walking to get to the next level. When I see all five lights, I know I am getting close to my 10,000 steps for the day, and I want to keep walking to see the fifth blinking light and finally feel the vibration to indicate I have reached my goal.
In my classes I need to find ways to break down tasks for my students so they can achieve small successes that will motivate them to continue the journey with a feeling of confidence.

“If you want a reluctant Elephant to get moving, you need to shrink the change.” (Page 129)