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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Inviting Voice and Choice in Meaningful Ways

There's nothing worse than to be invited into a conversation or decision when the final result has already been decided or construed. When that occurs, it is so demeaning.

Because too many educators don't have the time or knowledge of good process, backwards design, investment in each other, and vision, often our time together is not profitable. No one has done the deep thinking to truly make the conversation meaningful or productive. Over my tenure of 31 years I have participated in far too many of these conversations--conversations that go nowhere.

What I have always craved is true, authentic choice and voice that utilizes good process. Good process includes analysis, vision/goal setting, creating the path, reflecting and review, and once you're there analyzing again and creating the next learning path. Few professional learning events take on that kind of strategic process, a process that fully invites educators into the research, discussion, debate, and decision making.

What so many don't understand is what we do as educators depends a lot on inspiration, energy, and enthusiasm, and there is nothing that zaps your enthusiasm, energy, and inspiration more than professional learning events that are poorly constructed, inauthentic, and demeaning. It takes me days to get over these events.

How do we remedy the situation. You remedy the situation by working from the ground up--beginning with teachers, students, and families. You ask good questions such as what do you need and how can I help you. Then rather than demean or dismiss what educators, students, or family members say, you really work to discuss the idea and support them. When this happens, empowerment and engagement occur. And empowerment and engagement foster team which in turn fosters vigorous, dynamic teaching and learning.

I'm a fan of re-looking at educational roles. I feel that there are some roles that do not result in better work and learning, and there are other roles that result in significant teaching and learning--the kind that improves lives and betters schools and communities. I believe that we can all re-think our teaching/learning roles today and better define what it is we want to do and should do to teach better. No one is without room for improvement and betterment.

When I'm at school working with my team and students, I'm invigorated. We have what we need to do a good job. Also when I attend noteworthy professional learning events, I feel the same way. However, when I attend events where there's little good process, forethought, expertise, or vision, it's so discouraging. A change in this area begins with the ingredients of the ECET2 movement, a research-based movement that's been developed to uplift educators. These are ingredients that I believe will empower educators and what we can do.