Monday, August 14, 2017

Starting at a new school or do you have new teachers? ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ offers lessons in dealing with change.

*See a version of this for teens at the end of this post.

I started teaching at a new school last week and was inspired by an orientation activity in which we looked at the school’s teaching standards in discussion groups. I’ll explain the activity below, but first, the hook. We had a look at Who Moved My Cheese, authored by Dr. Spencer Johnson in 1998. (we actually viewed the first four minutes of the short movie made, and following a discussion with regard to the allegory, we watched this video that brings it all together with a contemporary example using Amazon. I encourage you to think about this as an activity in which you have new and old faculty think of themselves as individuals evolving and learning - what we ask our students to do. Which character are you most like - the two mice, "Sniff" and "Scurry" (who represent the "animal instinct" to adapt to the situation), or the two little people, "Hem" and "Haw." (who are a metaphor for being indecisive)

The Activity
*Feel free to download these activity description and worksheets to meet your school's needs. They can be modified, and used for a paper-based or digital activity. As noted, these are from an inspiring moment at school, original documents, but not my original ideas. You can find other examples in an online search.

The point in this activity was to connect our reservations or resistance to change, have an introduction to the school’s “Teaching and Learning Strands”, and consider where we fall as individuals on a continuum for each strand. There are five strands at the school, broken down into descriptors that we considered in small groups, and with regard to our experience in each strand, placed ourselves on a continuum: Developing - Competent - Proficient - Can Help Others. (there are various models, but I like the four choices that force you to not take the easy middle road) Following this we considered what our “cheese” - what our things we should focus on changing over the course of our transition to a new school, and in general as professionals. It’s a reflection on what we need to do to adapt, because change in inevitable. So how will be deal with that? Be aware that there are criticisms of this allegory, but it’s your choice to agree with the activity as a reflective practice or not.

Want to extend the activity? How about working something with this animated review of Stephen Covey’s  “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”. To what degree do your current habits reflect Covey’s “7 habits”.

Want to use it in the classroom? Here are activities baed on “Who Moved My Cheese? for Teens”.

Resource 1: An extended activity by Learn NC.
Resource 2: A shorter activity from Penguin.

Ann Gerber. "Who Moved My Cheese? for Teens." Web. 14 Aug. 2017.

"Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson ► Animated Book Summary." YouTube.
21 Jan. 2016. Web. 14 Aug. 2017. <>

"Who Moved My Cheese." 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 Aug. 2017.

"Who Moved My Cheese." YouTube. 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 14 Aug. 2017.