A leader recently chided me for sharing too much. My response was to say, "Then what do I do when I have an idea or question?" The leader left without answering that question. Another leader simply never answers my emails--that's another way to send the message, "Questions aren't welcome here." I have other leaders who are responsive, straightforward, and supportive. Leadership matters in schools because supportive, encouraging leadership that takes the time to listen and respond with truth and transparency invigorate the environment and grow the potential possible when it comes to teaching children well.
It's probably troubling to some leaders to have staff who ask questions--another issue to consider, another email to write. Yet, I think systems of idea share and exchange can serve to move learning communities forward.
Yes, I have lots of ideas. When you sit at the front line of education like I do you are always coming up with ideas to make teaching and learning better because you're forever met with more to do than time to do it--your job is one of constantly prioritizing who and what gets the attention. Most educators accept the fact that it's not their place to think "outside of their role" and don't share their ideas further than the water cooler or the teaching team.
Hence today when I was about to share a few ideas with leadership, I decided to place my ideas on the blog instead. This morning's awesome and riveting #satchat prompted this share--the chat was great because there was lots of debate and disagreement--the kind that serves to teach you and move you forward.
Therefore my ideas:
How do you keep the vision alive?
School systems will thrive if collective vision is kept alive regularly rather than infrequent attention to our common goals.
Listen to the voices of all stakeholders?
Sometimes teachers get discouraged because no one is listening or answering questions. For example, teachers have strong opinions about what they need to do a good job, but we are rarely asked, and if asked, our responses are not shared with each other.
What's being said at the leadership table?
When the leaders' goals and focus are clear and specific with transparency, the whole organization benefits. Where are we hitting the mark? Where are we not hitting the mark? What is the main focus?
We've instituted many new structures to move schools forward. It's clear that some of those new structures are inefficient and don't reap results at least not apparent results. I wish we could have honest discussions about that--what structures make a difference, and what structures do not make a difference.
What teachers are reaching wonderful success, and how are they doing that? I want to know that. Leaders have all kinds of ways of looking at teachers' success with depth, but that data is often not shared--sharing that data in meaningful, inclusive, authentic, respectful ways can serve to move us all forward. The data, however, has to be looked at well with all factors in mind. For example if one class has all well-cared for, advanced students and the other has a pocket of children who struggle for a number of reasons, those factors need to be considered.
What's on the agenda today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come. How are we going to meet the new State standards, and what's our approach? It's embarrassing to go to a teacher meeting and not know what's going on in your own system as teachers discuss new initiatives, efforts, and mandates.
What is the long term vision? What are we reaching for? Where are our rough spots? Where are our success spots? How can one advance in our system? What questions are welcome and what questions are not, and why?
Yes, I ask a lot of questions. Yes, I share a lot of ideas. Yes, I believe that communication, transparency, and shared ideas and vision do work to forward a learning community. Perhaps I'm wrong about this, and perhaps there are issues I'm not aware of. I welcome your insights.
It's difficult to be passionate and inquisitive and told to not ask questions or receive no response. I'll remember that as I work with my students with similar attributes in the days ahead.
I welcome your thoughts on this matter.