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Monday, December 05, 2016

Professional Challenges and Ethics

Last week I attended a large number of challenging meetings.

The first consisted of a group educators sharing their ideas for positive change in the school district. This was a challenging meeting since time was short and the ideas many. As I listened, I tried to hear the threads that tied the ideas together--what themes came up again and again as teachers spoke. Essentially I heard educators say that they need more say and support with regard to their work. Some supports currently in place are ineffective and insufficient, but there were a number of established practices and protocols teachers felt worked well. Clearly the educators where taking a holistic view with regard to salary and working conditions--they desire reasonable expectations and the salary and support they need to do the good work possible.

The next meting was a small group Social Emotional Learning (SEL) meeting where educators debated the best ways to embed SEL into our daily lessons in order to elevate what we can do to forward students' success as they embark on learning paths today and int he future. Similar to the first meeting, the next meeting brought a variety of view points and experience.

A third meeting found me working with a diverse group of educators as we grappled with issues of ethics, lawfulness, and right action. Again there were many diverse perspectives and a lengthy discussion that served to unify our thoughts and action as well as set the stage for future efforts.

Further I attended a meeting to discuss math education. Again diverse perspectives, level of experience, and knowledge of one another existed. Again time was short. Some clarity resulted and some questions still remain. It's not easy to set math paths today due to the large number of resources available and the fast pace of new research. Many agreed that good math teaching is a moving target, one that will continue to change over time.

And there were a number of student meetings too--meeting with students and/or educators to determine the best practice and paths with regard to supporting students holistic programs well.

For the most part, the meetings above were meetings that included respectful process, educator voice and choice, and forward movement related to the issues discussed.

This week there are many meetings planned too, meeting that continue the conversation about positive school district development and change, social emotional teaching/learning, and program design to support students well. This week's meetings will also focus on student safety, technology integration, and communication.

For my part with regard to these efforts to collaborate with colleagues, I am focused on the following efforts:
  • Advocacy for effective strategic process. Time is short, the needs are high, and good strategic process will result in more successful, profitable collaboration.
  • Patient, respectful listening and speak. Due to time constraints, process, variability of perspectives/experience, and decision making differential, meetings can, at times, be frustrating, but that never is a reason to use a disrespectful voice or impatience. Instead it's best to advocate and contribute to efforts that make meetings positively focused on good process, respect for one another's ideas, and student-centered goals. 
  • Adequate lead time, preparation, and communication. When meeting efforts are well defined with lead time, protocols, effective strategic process, and good communication that gives educators a greater opportunity to positively participate. 
  • Respectful, evidence-based advocacy for greater distributive leadership and teacher leadership. When educators have greater voice and choice, they teach and lead better. This kind of structure also results in better modeling and coaching for the students we teach. 
There's lot to learn as the teaching/learning landscape changes, and taking the time to focus your efforts and path helps you to travel that path with success. Onward.