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Monday, April 18, 2016

The Missing Piece: Communication

There have been so many positive changes in education in the past few years, changes that have inspired and made possible better work. The one missing link in my education environment is full-circle communication.

I am always surprised to read or view in the newspaper and on online threads about upcoming changes and new ideas that relate to my work. I wish those new ideas and changes were relayed to my colleagues and me in timely, regular ways rather than to read them elsewhere or hear of them in passing.

I've reached out to understand better the vision, plans, and ideas being discussed, but typically, I receive little or no response. That's frustrating. I know that some do not believe in inclusive, regular share of information, but instead hold fast to ideas related to "manage the message." They may not want educators like me thinking about the ideas ahead, yet when I don't know about what's being planned, discussed, or imagined, there's a great chance that time will not be used well as my think/efforts and the system plans may go down different paths. With regular, updated communication, there's a better chance that our efforts will complement and enrich each others with a team-like, collaborative effort.

Once a leader told me that I can't be "the tail that wags the dog." That comment has stayed with me as I felt like the individual was telling me to do as I'm told and not think about it. Perhaps that wasn't the message yet I've feared revisiting that comment since it was frightening and seemed like a warning to me to stay in my place.

Since that time, I've read a lot and thought a lot about my place in the education sphere. I've put most of my energy into the work I do with my students in the classroom, yet at times, that work pushes me outside of that sphere as there are so many constructs, decisions, information, and ideas from outside the classroom that affect what I'm able to do. If I believe an idea has merit for better service to children, I share the idea even if I think some may think my share inappropriate. I truly feel that when we hold good ideas inside we negate the promise those ideas hold for better lives and experiences. I also believe that we all have good ideas and promising beliefs and experiences when it comes to teaching well and it's in our respectful, caring collaboration that we do our best work with and for each other.

There's lots to learn when it comes to teaching well. There are many right answers. As we travel the road to do better work, it is a humbling road. Ideas we once thought to be best, may turn out to be no longer useful or promising. We will continually learn of new ways to teach well, ways that will lead to the elimination or revision of old ideas. We will also realize that some of those "old ideas" remain powerful and strong. None of us have all the answers, but good communication and process related to what we know and do are essential. It's the missing piece I hope to uncover in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Update: This post was written in 2016, since that time communication in many arenas in the system where I work has improved considerably. I appreciate this improvement.