Why is it so hard to change?

AIER Board Member Matt Miller hosted this education conversation with Dr. Michael Dunn, Superintendent of Northeast Washington ESD 101.


Questions pitched for discussion included:

  • Even with what we learned during Covid, why is it so hard to change?

  • What are your thoughts on this "learning acceleration business?"

  • How does a system ever catch up… should it?

See below the image for a few themes and quotes that emerged from the discussion.

Zoom participants discuss perspectives on Pandemic impacts.
Zoom participants discuss perspectives on Pandemic impacts.

First, Dr. Dunn extended recognition for the admirable adaptability and resilience educators showed during the pandemic. He also pointed out that educators initially received profound appreciation, but that as the pandemic progressed, some appreciation dissapated at the hands of policy and political divisiveness.


Dr. Dunn noted that a few things really didn't change during the pandemic, such as: "Regardless of what we try, if we don't have authentic, enduring relationships, nothing will change."


Some things brought to light by the pandemic include:

  • We need to listen more to one another

  • Inequities persist: internet accessibility and parents ability to help their children depending on their circumstances with work, childcare access, housing space, etc.

  • We need one another, and we need to learn enhanced grace with one another

  • Before Covid, it was already really tough being a kid these days. Social media has added new challenges and struggles for teens.

  • It is a good reminder that we must work to reduce uncertainty and unpredictability for some of our students who live under those circumstances and depend on school for some healthy routines

  • Gangs festered during the shutdown as people searched for belonging

  • We discovered how hard it is as adults to jump back and forth between 6 different disconnected things each day - our kids do this every day.

  • We can't meet curricular needs if we don't help kids understand how much we care

  • We have measures of suicide rate, but is that the only measure of a healthy population? What's a better measure for happiness and fulfillment?

After a fruitful discussion, Dr. Dunn reminded us of this quote to emphasize the need to keep our staff mentally healthy and supported to do their work:


"If you don't feed the teachers, they'll eat the students."

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