By: Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach- (repost from the PLP Year 2 Community)

A change agent, or agent of change, is someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural, or behavioral change.

As the time to end another year with PLP comes to a close I hope you are seeing yourself as an agent of change.

Questions for the Change Agent in You

1. Do you see opportunities for positive change that others at your school do not see?
It was French novelist Marcel Proust, who famously said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” The most successful change agents don’t do more… they do differently. They redefine the terms of education by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a culture of me-too thinking.

2. Do you have new ideas about where to look for new ideas?
One way to look at problems as if you’re seeing them for the first time is to look outside of education for ideas that have been working for a long time. Ideas that are routine in one situation can be revolutionary when they migrate to another, especially when they challenge the prevailing assumptions that have come to define school culture.

3. Are you the most of anything?
You ideas for educational reform can’t be “pretty good” – they need to be “really good”. They need to be the most of something: the most affordable, the most accessible, the most elegant, the most colorful, the most transparent, the most kids– you get the idea.

4. If your idea or mission didn’t come forth, who would miss you and why?
Jim Collins of Good to Great fame talks about this. The question is simple — and worth taking seriously as a guide to what really matters. As a change agent do you add value or just create noise?

5. Have you figured out how your school’s history can help to shape its future? Psychologist Jerome Bruner describes what happens when we use what works to define what is new. The essence of creativity, he argues, is “figuring out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think.” The most creative leaders don’t disavow the past. They rediscover and reinterpret what’s come before as a way to develop a line of sight into what comes next.

6. Are you getting the best contributions from the most people?
The change is not a game best played by loners. These days, the most powerful contributions come from the most unexpected places — the “hidden genius” inside your PLN, the “collective genius” of other smart people who surround you. The wisdom of the crowd. Do you know how to tap genius? Have you used this year to help build your PLN?

7. Are you consistent in your commitment to change?
Often, in today’s world, schools are accused of not having the guts to change. In fact, the problem with many schools is that all they do is change. They lurch from one unfounded idea to the next, from the most recent instructional fad to the newest technology craze. If, as a change agent, a leader, you want to make deep-seated change, then your priorities and practices have to stay consistent in good times and bad– even when you hit what Michael Fullan describes as the “implementation dip”. Action research can help you target what works and guide you in developing a long term plan toward positive change.

8. Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?
In a world that never stops changing, great leaders can never stop learning. How do you push yourself as an individual to keep growing and evolving so as a result, your school can do the same?

Sure–others will be resistant to change. Newton’s Law of Motion applies to change agents too.

Be that unbalanced force.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: The Law of Inertia.
An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

And as PLPeeps— know your community and network are here to help.
Make sure you follow and join the new Facebook group for PLPeeps (Year 2 and beyond).

Photo Credits:

Post insired and reworked from

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During a 25-year education career, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, where she works with schools and districts from around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities through the Connected Learner Experience and other e-learning opportunities. She is the author (with Lani Ritter Hall) of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (Solution Tree, 2012) and serves on the ISTE Board of Directors.
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