I was recently introduced to the concept of gear acquisition syndrome (gas). It comes from the field of photography and certainly extends to technology referring to the need to acquire the newest shiny product. I am sure each of us can relate to this syndrome from our own experience and/or knowing someone who is consistently an early adopter of the newest product.
What I found interesting as I searched the web for information on GAS was that the majority of the articles focused on “how to cure GAS” in fact one article focused on the seven stages of GAS.
I thought about how GAS relates to education, school systems and teacher practices remembering a recent e-mail conversation with Peter DeWitt in which he shared that one of the consistent challenges he observed in schools is “initiative fatigue, the lack of understanding why districts are doing what they are doing.”
In my experience working in schools for over 30 years, I have observed, similar to Peter’s analysis, many administrators and teachers who quickly gravitate to the newest initiative, strategy or resource focusing on implementation rather than focusing on sustaining the most effective strategies that have positive impacts on students.
I encourage us to resist the urge to quickly adopt the newest and shiniest strategy but focus instead on the strategies that best lead to the anticipated outcomes and impacts we are responsible for. This way we can consider new strategies only as they enhance our contributions to positive student development and can be integrated into existing effective practices.
From my experience continuous improvement is more about deepening effective school practices through thoughtful enhancements rather than eliminating what we do well and replacing it with something new and shiny.