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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Graceful Effort and Leadership

These words are heard in the schoolhouse:

"We do as we're told."

"We do the best we can."

Yet, I retorted to one who spoke like that, "Can't we do better?"

His shoulders sagged and he essentially said, "We can't fight all battles." True, I thought.

Then with the awesome opportunity of time to meet and make decisions about how to serve students well, disruption arose. How did a wonderful opportunity turn to a situation of angst, frustration, and a job undone?
  • Strong feelings.
  • Varied experiences.
  • Different perspectives
  • Unclear and unshared process details.
  • Final goals not clearly and collectively identified.
  • Essentially the strategic process used was not defined, shared, co-created, or utilized well.
As teachers yearn for and begin to have choice, voice, and leadership in education organizations some disruption occurs. I don't think this disruption arises from ill intent, but instead from a lack of experience, good process, and shared understanding and perspective.

Did everyone at the meeting have similar intent and goals? I think so, but I'm not totally sure. If we went around the table and shared our goals for the meeting, there may have been some differences, but I think that most would say, "We're here to help students learn the standards with confidence, ownership, and success."

Did everyone understand the strategic process we were using to create the instructional groups? I think this may have been the initial issue. I think that people came to the meeting expecting different processes for decision making and working together. There was a general misunderstanding amongst group members of the process we were using. If this were clearly outlined, discussed, and utilized, I think the meeting would have gone better.

As for participation, I've thought so much about this. I prepared for the meeting, but how might I have contributed to a better meeting? I think the answer lies in the words graceful effort, and I believe, in part, graceful effort is marked by some of the following attributes:
  • conservation of words: use the words that matter most
  • active listening: don't be worried about time, but instead actively listen, listen, listen
  • stick to the script: prepare for the meeting by outlining objectives, main points, and goals--then stick to that script.
  • ask questions: when worried, concerned, or confused, ask questions first.
  • intentionality: knowing what is most important and focusing on that.
I'm sure that other participants of the group may think of attributes, attitudes, or actions they might change to contribute to a better, more productive, and collaborative meeting too. Though I anticipated some struggle, the disruption that occurred was unexpected and worrisome--but disruption that has moved me forward with the intention of "graceful effort and leadership."

I don't think that teachers should simply "obey" or "do the best they can," instead I believe that every teacher has the call to lead within his/her charge with good work, voice, and choice--teachers are well educated, committed to their craft, and most often highly experienced when it comes to working with children and families. It's important that their voices, thoughts, creativity, research, and experience are well considered when decisions are made with regard to teaching children well. In fact, as you have heard me state again and again, I believe that the voices of all stakeholders are important including students, teachers, staff members, families, administrators, and citizens, and to help those voices come alive we need strategic models of distributive leadership and process to bring those voices together in order to do our best work with each and every child.

I will continue my advocacy, quest, and education to teach and lead well. I will continue to look for ways to peacefully work to build more distributive, modern, and effective models of learning and teaching to children--knowledge age models that elevate and celebrate the voices and choices of all stakeholders. Models that look and feel much different than old time industrial/factory model schools.

I, like all, have much to share and much to learn in this quest, and I will continue to move forward in this direction in my professional sphere always with the urgency to teach children well as my motivation. Onward.