Saturday, October 31, 2015

Don't Foster a Culture of Silence

Yesterday I had a wonderful opportunity to sit down and talk about meaningful teaching/learning issues. It was a good conversation, one that needed to happen.

Often in education and other realms, silence is advocated since talking about the difficult questions creates disruption. While I know it's difficult to find the time and to share the thinking that goes with big questions and difficult topics, I still hold that it's important that we are willing to make the time, create the process, and then to discuss what truly matters when it comes to teaching students well.

During these conversations we have to be gentle with one another because we know it's not a simple matter to teach large groups of diverse students well. In fact, like a complex math problem, there are many variables involved in this endeavor, and because of this, these discussions have to be sensitive and careful, but that's not a reason to quell time to talk.

We also have to look at the structures we use to talk and ask the questions:
  • Is there enough time?
  • Have we done the necessary preparation?
  • Are we using good process--a process that's inclusive, efficient, and forward moving?
  • Do we understand where each person is coming from?
  • What's the main goal?
  • What is the level of urgency and/or priority related to this topic?
Instead of a culture of silence, I support a culture of respect, open share, and collective goal setting. I'm a big fan of the shared leadership model in this respect. 

I want to think more about this topic and the many elements related to it as we work together to grow and develop schools. I want to also think about the diplomacy, respect, empathy, and care that goes along with this topic. There's lots to learn.