ELEM/GEN: Keep Calm and Move with the Cheese

Change is hard. Change is scary. Change is inevitable. We are reminded of this often. Many of us are facing changes this school year. Maybe we have a new job. Maybe we are teaching new grade levels. Or, maybe our principal sees so much potential in us that he/she has given us extra duties in our building. We all will experience changes with new classes as we prepare for the coming school year. In the book Who Moved My Cheese, Spencer Johnson details the woes of change on the job and how to deal with it. Here’s how the book characters Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw, faced the changes in their lives.

Imagine the setting: a maze where the four characters search every day for their supply of cheese. They find great cheese and become comfortable eating it day in and day out. The problem is interjected when the reliable cheese supply is suddenly moved or extinguished. The mice in the story, Sniff and Scurry hurry out into the maze to find new cheese, while the “little people” Hem and Haw look around wondering what happened to their cheese. “While Hem and Haw were still trying to decide what to do, Sniff and Scurry were already well on their way.” (Johnson, p. 39). Finally, Haw realizes that if he does not change, he will become extinct. So he decides to venture out into the maze once again. One of the important questions that Haw asks himself as he tries to venture out again is “What would you do if you weren’t afraid” (Johnson, p. 48). What would WE do this year, if we were not afraid? Would we redesign a stagnant curriculum, finally participate in a choral festival, or take a new leadership position in our school? Johnson says that “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free” (p. 56) and that “change can lead to something better” (p. 59).

The Elementary Executive Board met recently to discuss the upcoming AMEA in-service, music festival, and fall workshop. Your elementary board has been faced with some difficult decisions this year. Many perspectives of music educators all over the state were weighed, and several options were considered. Rest assured the goal of your elementary board is to continue moving our organization forward toward the future. I believe, as Johnson says, “the biggest inhibitor to change lies within yourself and that nothing gets better until you change” (p. 71) and I believe, the handwriting is on the wall:

“Change Happens: They keep moving the cheese;”

We should, “Anticipate Change: Get ready for the cheese to move;”

We must, “Monitor the Change: Smell the cheese often so you know when the cheese is getting old;”

and, “Adapt to Change Quickly: The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy the new cheese,

Change: Move with the cheese;”

Furthermore, we should, “Enjoy Change! Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese!”

And, “Be Ready to Change Quickly and Enjoy it Again and Again: They keep moving the Cheese.” (Johnson, p.74). Right now, we are moving with the cheese so we can continue to enjoy it again and again.

Years ago, when I was a consultant with Mary Kay cosmetics, I made a dream board. It was a way for new consultants to envision what they wanted out of their Mary Kay business. Although I gave up selling Mary Kay long ago, I never gave up the concept of dreaming big and envisioning what I wanted to achieve. I recently went back to school and completed my goal of obtaining my Masters’ degree. Consider this, another big question from the story is “What do we need to let go of and what do we need to move on to? (Johnson p. 83). What are your big dreams for this year, for your professional development, or for yourself personally? I challenge you to set goals and make a “dream board” with your goals written out and go for it. Let go of your old habits and reach for the “new cheese.”

Thank you for your hard work, dedication and continued support of the Elementary Division of the AMEA and the children of Alabama.

See you in September,

Betty R. Wilson
President Elementary/General Division


Workshops and Other Professional Development Opportunities:

East Alabama Music Workshop
Grace United Methodist Church, Auburn Tiffany English
August 24, 2019
Contact: lydarob@me.com

AMEA Choir Festival:
Friday, October 18, 2019
Eastmont Baptist Church, Montgomery Contact Melissa McIntyre, Festival Director Ameafestival@gmail.com

Fall AMEA Workshop:
Saturday, October 19, 2019 from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm Clinicians: Dr. Madeline Bridges and Dr. Becky Halliday Location: Eastmont Baptist Church, Montgomery Contact: elementaryamea@gmail.com

AMEA Professional Development Conference
Jan 16-18, 2020
Renaissance Montgomery Hotel and Spa Featured Clinician: Jim Solomon. Details will be available soon at www.myamea.org