As I think about this, I'm thinking about what might happen to better this in the school community.
First, with regard to initiatives big and small, it's important to do less, rather than try to cram it all in. It's similarly important to revisit and review initiatives every year because what worked or was right one year may be different the next. Information, laws, regulations, and focus related to our work as educators are always changing--we have to stay abreast of those changes.
We also have to be cognizant of the information we read and hear, and speak up more often than not if needed. For example, recently an issue arose that was troubling. I had read a bit about the situation and was not content with the process, however I was worried about speaking up yet again about an issue as at times teachers are chastised for speaking up so I didn't. Later the issue grew to be a big issue, one which may not have happened if people spoke up and did the research sooner than later.
Communication is equally important. We have to be truthful, respectful, efficient, and purposeful in our communication related to process and results. Blaming, judging, or admonishing individuals needs to be a well-researched process that involves investigation and facts, not hearsay, conjecture, and a will to demean or degrade an individual. Hateful, hurtful communication creates pain and either hinders or breaks good process and result.
So with lots of thought about process and communication this weekend, I'm left with the following thoughts. With initiatives we have to focus on purpose, process, and protocol carefully and collaboratively to do our work well. We have to answer these questions with every initiative:
- What is the purpose of this work? Is the purpose rightly directed, relevant, and meaningful?
- What process will we use? Start with determining success criteria, map the learning path, begin the process step-by-step, stop to reflect and revise along the way.
- What protocols will we use as we conduct the process? What laws do we have to follow? What regulations do we have to adhere to? What guidelines will help us do the job? How will we communicate? How will we collaborate? How will we include all stakeholders throughout the process?
As I think of an upcoming initiative and apply this thinking, I realize I'll do the following:
- Purpose: Continued betterment related to collaboration in order to teach and serve students better.
- Success Criteria: A successful grade level program where students are happy, confident, and demonstrating growth in all expected learning standards and focus areas.
- Learning Path: Analysis and assessment of this year's program, mapping next year's program, research and reading related to identified program development, early year meetings to ensure a good service/teaching schedule, teaching each unit, assessing and revising as needed, and working with colleagues to serve families and students well.
- Polite, respectful, truthful language
- Speaking up and asking questions when needed
- Targeted, easy-to-read, pointed communication
- Focus on students, families, and collegial collaboration and service
- Focus on successful teaching and program development
Communication is equally important. It takes time to hone your communication skills so that you get your point across with clarity and care. For some that's easier than others, but in all, we have to coach each other forward towards communication that's honest, caring, kind, and purposeful.