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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Solving Problems: It's Usually Not Personal

When issues that affect teaching/learning occur, it's a natural instinct to take it personally. One might immediately connect the issue to their own or others' teaching, leading, and learning, but in general most issues are systematic and not related to any one person.

Last night I watched a series of great videos related to positive change and effort, I was struck by one story of how a leader changed the arrangement of furniture in her office to make change with regard to working with her staff. A simple shift of furniture resulted in much more positive relationships and effort in the work place. Hence, we have to be careful about assigning blame and understanding problems without taking the time to carefully ask questions, talk to one another, and assess the situation.

Without using a full, comprehensive process of problem analysis, it's likely the problem will persist. It's important to go back and chart all the efforts related to an issue, and then to read related details and information to understand the events. Good work and change depends on this.

When problems occur, it's easy to blame someone, and often that's an individual's first reaction. When blame gets involved, then big feelings get involved, and when feelings and emotion get involved, often the specific facts and figures related to a situation get lost.

In the teaching/learning world, the problems we generally solve relate to serving children well. If we don't solve these problems with our best effort, process, and procedure, then the children lose out.

So, don't take it personally. Instead look at problems with a systematic lens--where is the system working, and where did the system break down. Ask questions, outline the details, and look for the snags, inefficiency, and missing pieces. After that fill in the blanks with proper process, true information, and positive, proactive intent and effort.