Long ago, I would share my voice in hushed discussions when I disagreed about a decision or policy. I was afraid to speak up.
I was afraid to speak up because I didn't know all the information, and I was also worried about the consequences of speaking up. Yet, sharing information in hushed discussions often leads to rumors and is much like a game of telephone as the stories become distorted quickly.
Then I started using my voice more. At first I tried many ways to use my voice. In fact, I'm still experimenting with the best ways to use my voice for best effect. Some will argue that debating these issues on a blog is not the best way, but when the ideas are debated behind closed doors, the discussion is sometimes lost, forgotten or misinterpreted. On a blog, it's here to debate, discuss and revise.
Now when issues occur, I speak up if I believe change will make a difference for children. I speak up if policy and procedure take us away from the important work we do or if policy and procedure do not reflect best practice.
When I speak up, I don't expect to always be right. Earlier this week, I spoke up about a staff event and a colleague reminded me of information that impacted that decision; she helped me to see the event with new eyes. I realize that I see issues from my vantage point and there are other viewpoints to consider, so when I speak up, I expect to hear information I might not be aware of. I'm also willing to "agree to disagree" with regards to some discussions.
I like what transparency, protocols and good communication can do for a team or organization. I don't like what secrecy, inconsistency and confusion create. I don't think that everyone agrees with me. I think that many feel that some in an organization should have voice, and others shouldn't. Others seem to believe that there's a hierarchy as to who has voice and who doesn't. Still more prefer more of a political way of managing their work and effort by using subtle action and effort to work well within the current organizational structure.
I'm perhaps too transparent and honest about my beliefs. When it comes to schools, I always say, "We're not talking about nuclear bombs," instead, we're discussing what's best with regard to the education and care for young children. To me, that topic lends itself to transparency and shared information as the more we all know and share, the better our collective efforts will be with regard to student success.
Voice is an issue I'll continue to think about. It's a time of changing organizational structure and systems, during this change, the impact, delivery and systems for voice are important considerations. As you think about voice, what protocols, policies and principles guide your work?