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Sunday, February 07, 2016

Good Schools: Effective Share and Communication Systems?

Similar to other forward moving, inspiring conferences, when I returned from ECET2, I enthusiastically shared my notes and experience via posts, an email, and some conversation. A few colleagues were delighted to hear about the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation focus on "celebrating and elevating effective teachers and teaching." They were eager to sign up to be apart of this movement. One leader also expressed enthusiasm, but many educators and leaders, so busy with their day-to-day efforts, didn't respond or show any interest. And, I'm wondering why this matters.

I guess, in an ideal world, I would hope for the leaders and educators around me to be excited by this, but I realize that they are all very busy with countless efforts of their own to develop their work and complete the tasks associated with teaching and leading well. Similarly when I received the NPBTS certification, I was met with little response. In fact, a leader at the time responded with the comment, "I don't know why anyone would do that." As you can imagine that was not well received after the time and effort I put into getting the certification. When I recertified ten years later, one leader did write a short note of congratulations which I appreciated.

Educators and leaders in school systems are often stretched thin. The focus on paperwork, requirements, and data is big. Just this year we've received numerous notes about mandated trainings, CORI forms, and other required paperwork and activity to make sure our schools are safe and employees, interns, and volunteers suitably checked and licensed to do their work. We've also spent lots of time on school procedures for field studies, safety drills, and social competency requirements--all needed and necessary. Still more time has been spent on curriculum programs, goals, and scores. There's so much happening in classrooms, schools, and school systems, that it's not surprising that one teacher's efforts are easily overlooked. How often might we as educators overlook a promising moment or extra effort of a student in our class as well as we try to manage and inspire many?

Yet, as an educator, I am very interested in the work, celebrations, and interests of my colleagues. Since I can't go to all conferences or be all things, I love to hear about what they are doing and how that's making a difference in their work with and for students.

I'm a big fan of optimal communication and share systems that forward an entire community. I've written again and again about the need to spread the "good news" in school systems by creating and supporting vehicles of share that invite educators to share their good work, new knowledge, triumphs and questions too to forward an entire community.

A while back, we tried creating a blog to do that at my school, but there was little interest. I have found, in general, that educators respond to leaders' actions and words far more than to that of colleagues. Hence, because no leaders got involved with the blog, I think there was little interest from the staff. Another reason for the lack of interest was that it was an "add-on" and in general educators, often feel overwhelmed with the requirements of the job, requirements that are often completed before and after school hours given their time-on-task requirements with students during the school day.

Further, I'm sure that many would respond to this post with the word humility in mind. Many would say that a good teacher quietly goes about his/her work for the children with humility meaning little share or outward enthusiasm for his or her work. But, I believe that greater share of the good work each educator does helps to forward an entire community of learners and teachers--when we are knowledgeable about the good work each of us does, we all develop in ways that are more promising and positive for the students we teach.

How does your system share the good news of teaching and learning? What protocols are in place for this kind of share? How does leadership promote and positively endorse the good work of educators? Is this information shared with the greater community? Does this matter?

As we develop our systems of teaching and learning, how do we create vibrant, enthusiastic, and forward moving systems that promote collective positive action, share, and efforts to teach children well? What do we do in this regard that matters? What do we do that can change for the better?  I'm interested in what you have to say.