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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Answering Questions For You

Have you ever been in the situation where a person asks your son or daughter a question, and you answer it. On the contrary, have you ever asked a young person a question only to have the parent or adult in the room answer the question before the child has a chance to answer.

In either case, an individual is robbed of their voice, thoughts, and ideas. They are not given the chance to add their ideas, wonderings, experience, or further questions.

The same can happen in your professional life. Sometimes questions are answered for you. For example a person may choose for you based on what they think you need rather than taking the time to sit down and talk to you about what you need.

Teachers can do that too. We can sit together at meetings conjecturing about what students need, but if we don't include the students in that discussion, we do them a disservice.

The best leaders at any level include their constituents regularly in conversation, choice, and discussion about what's needed and the processes and agendas that match those needs. These leaders also include constituents in the ongoing narrative of discussion and decision making. For example, in situations like this, you may receive updates that include the following words and phrases:
  • Thanks to _____'s idea, we've shifted our process w/_______.
  • In view of our collaborative discussion, the next steps will be. . .
  • After thinking about the results of the survey (results link), I am left with the following questions. Please add your thoughts related to this quandary on the collaborative document so we can all share in the decision to be made.
It's best not to answer questions or make decisions for others. Instead, whenever possible, the right way is to include those impacted by the decision in the decision process up front.

Afterward
After I wrote this post, I noted to students that a decision was made for me, and I wish that I had been included in the decision. Then I said, I feel that you should all be included in class decisions so what do you think we can do to make school a great experience for all. Hands readily shot up with a number of ideas listed below. In fact there was so much enthusiasm for the conversation that we have to continue it at another time.

Students' Ideas
  • Less math. I noted we can't do this, but we can try to make the math more fun. I committed to doing this.
  • Adding memes to the classroom. We can definitely do this via a bulletin board and student portfolios.
  • Adding a perseverance or encouragement bulletin board.
  • More recess breaks
  • Greater detail with the calendar page, and greater preview of events to come.
  • More STEAM activities
  • More fun at math RTI.
  • Using a "splash of quotes" on portfolio covers.
  • More ways to systematically help each other out. 
These are all great ideas and mostly research-based ideas which confirms my initial intent of this post which is people generally know what they need and desire.