How to Best Support NFWs

This post is part of a series for school leaders working on implementing large-scale, learning-focused school change. The NFWs are the folks who look a little like Yes Buts with their questions of “but what about this and what about that?” but who are really saying to themselves and their fellow NFWs, “No freaking way am I doing this!”

This post focuses on how to best support NFWs.

The best way to support NFWs is to begin by acknowledging who they are and how they are likely to respond to the initiative. Ironically, acknowledging that you will likely have little control over the NFWs in relation to the initiative is very freeing. Frustration is when reality doesn’t match expectations. But when you know what to expect from NFWs, you can let go of the frustration, making it much easier to be patient with them. Simply let them be who they are, and take pride in the effort and energy you are putting into the Yes Buts.

Respond to NFWs inquiries (patiently) with the same legitimate answers that you’d give Yes Buts, and don’t react when they throw  up the next question. Offer them all the same resources and professional learning opportunities (that are within reason and are practical) that you would the Yes Buts.  But don’t get too hung up on responding to their every request and concern. Be polite, be patient, but don’t engage or get drawn into a debate.

Don’t put any more than 10% of your energy and effort into NFWs. They are not the ones who will help you move the needle. Sometimes NFWs will eventually come along, but generally only after they realize “the train has left the station.” That only happens when enough of the Yes Buts have changed their practice to have really moved the needle for the school.

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