Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Value in Words vs. Value in Action

Do your words reflect your actions?

For dreamers, thinkers, and committed educators everywhere, that's a key question.

I often say that my words sometimes outpace my actions--I am always trying to catch up to the promise my words present. I can see it and I'm always working towards it. What the mind can see and body can do are often distanced from one another.

Yet, we need to continue to believe that we can catch up to that vision and instill those values and beliefs in our work everyday. We have to find the supportive allies, chart the course, reflect, and continue to move towards that light.

Some are satisfied to accept things as they are rather than to build towards better. It's already good enough they think and worry about upsetting the status quo. I understand that feeling because ideas for change so often create angst, worry, and conflict--many don't desire change and want things to stay the same.

What powers my thirst for change? I see what small changes can do to empower greater positivity and service to students. I know that if we're prepared well, we're able to focus better on the needs of children. I understand that good data analysis helps us to pinpoint small opportunities to create greater success with regard to student learning, inspiration, and service.

As I thought about this yesterday, I wondered how those who fought for their rights to vote or have equal access to laws and opportunities, convinced their friends and family members to join them.

I can imagine early suffragettes trying to convince their friends that women do deserve the right to vote and greater equal rights to men. I'm sure that many women were afraid to join this movement at first and perhaps throughout the advocacy.

In the best of circumstances, our words for change are matched with action for change. We can't promote an idea in the abstract and then not contribute to that idea in reality. For me this challenge lies in relationship building. I believe we need to work together well to do the best possible job in schools, yet these relationships are often strained when vision and priorities differ, and there is little time to discuss these differences in order to come to common ground.

For example we talk about the opportunity gap, but how much time and good analysis do we give to that subject. Similarly we all agree about preparedness for good teaching, but we may disagree in what that looks like or includes. To do better, we need the time to meet, talk, and come to agreement about what to do and how to do it.

Last year, in mid winter, we began to re-look at our schedule, a schedule that was good, but held room for positive change. We devoted considerable time and effort to looking at ways to better that schedule, and provided lots of ideas to the scheduling team. Our efforts were rewarded when we received a terrific teaching schedule this year--one that provided the time needed to teach well and one that eliminated times that were difficult for students to navigate--little bits of time that resulted in challenge.

With this in mind, I continue to wonder how we can establish innovation, change, and improvement efforts in an ongoing way so that it's a natural part of our work and not a yearly worry as new challenges arise as we know challenges will arise. What would this look like? How would we institute this and stay committed to it?

I will think on this more as I move forward. Onward.