Friday, July 13, 2018

Develop Your Skill: I Already Do That

There's a human instinct to deny needed growth. I read about this years ago in the book, Intentional Interruption, that demonstrates what we believe about ourselves is often untrue and exaggerated related to our best attributes and successes. Yes, sometimes we think too highly of ourselves and don't recognize the ways we need to improve. This is a humbling reality.

Recently I heard this reality when an individual responded to new goals with the statement, We already do that. Yes, the individual was right, we do do that, but do we do it with the depth and purpose outlined in the goals and do we do it across all classrooms, learning experiences, and supports? As with any teaching/learning objective, we rarely meet the potential that exists for betterment--there's always more that we can do.

How do we forward ourselves beyond the myths we hold that we are already meeting the depth and promise of goals with fidelity and success?

I think the best way to do this is through common focus, purpose, and goals. I believe that when a group of educators chooses a worthy goal, define that goal with specificity, outlines the path to goal attainment, and then begin the journey together with honesty, empathy, and support for one another, we can help each other to move forward to deeper practice, greater capacity, and truly meaningful work--this is the beautiful potential we hold as educators, the really good work we are able to do together.

So rather than meeting a goal with the statement, "I already do that," you could instead meet a goal with the statement, "What meaningful, collective goal will take me to better effort and result in that realm?"

As I think of this more specifically, I want to think about how I might make this a reality with math education. One way to do this might be to follow these steps:
  • Assess students' performance from last year using a number of formal and informal assessments with the teaching team, and determine an area of practice that we think we can do better with. 
  • Work together to define that goal and outline the path to goal attainment--discuss what's needed with regard to scheduling, learning experiences, resources, assessments, and meetings. 
  • Then get started assessing, revising, and reflecting on the efforts regularly.
Last year system leadership followed a similar pattern in each school. I listened to several of their reports which were inspiring. 

As I think more about this, however, it might be that we choose a goal that impacts the entire teaching/learning team--a goal we're all invested in. To do that well would mean that we would have a deep conversation about where we are doing well and where we can improve as a team with regard to student service and teaching. Good process and leadership would have to lead this effort, and then we could work on this effort throughout the year at our PLCs. I imagine that something like this might be in the works given the efforts of the administrative team and chosen affiliates last year.

So next time you're tempted to respond with "I already do that" to a proposed goal, you might want to think instead how can I grow that effort in a meaningful, collaborative way that develops my skill by developing what I can do with and for others. Onward.