Saturday, August 26, 2017

Straight Talk

A colleague and friend from another school told me a story, a story that created all kinds of conjecture and hearsay in her school. I wondered why there wasn't straight talk, and I wondered why all the facts related to this story weren't openly shared. In schools, there generally doesn't have to be secrets. For the most part, people are there every day to do their best with and for students. And when problems occur, there's typically no reason not to openly share the issue with facts so that hearsay and conjecture doesn't take over.

Now I do believe that we have to keep issues related to people's private lives very private. For example if a student or teacher is suffering from a troubling personal situation, illness, or financial difficulty, that's no one's business, but when it comes to the teaching/learning community, it's best to use straight talk.

Straight talk profits from regular communication, sharing earlier than later, and an openness to feedback.

So as we begin this school year, I advocate for straight talk with the following protocols:

  • When in doubt, ask
  • Seek the facts in the situation rather than sharing hearsay and conjection
  • If something seems wrong, investigate. Too often, bad things happen because people don't act when they see something that's not right. 
  • Be honest and be empathetic too. None of us always do the right thing. We all have moments of bad judgement, misunderstanding, and ill effort. That's when we need our colleagues' empathy, honest, and support the most.
  • Be solutions-oriented, rather than judgemental
Straight talk limits the need for time and energy related to confusion, rumors, and hearsay. Straight talk provides more time for the good work we are dedicating to doing to support dynamic teaching/learning organizations.