Friday, July 13, 2018

System Think and Ideas: Impact on Individual Work

Some do not involve themselves in system think and ideas. I love to think systematically about the work I do and the influences that impact my work. It's obvious that systems affect the work I do every day, and to do better work, I need to work to make better systems.

Sadly if an educator doesn't have a restroom break, there's a problem with the system. This is a basic issue that often goes unacknowledged in school settings, and an issue which connects to educators' health, demeanor, and ability to teach well. It's foolish that this situation continues, but it does. Fortunately next year I'll have a teaching assistant in my class so that should not be an issue.

The way time is used in schools is another systems issue. When teachers are expected to do up to five hours of work a day on their own time to prep, plan, assess, and respond to lessons and administrative tasks, there's a problem with the way time is used and the expectations set. Old time factory model schedules still exist in many schools--those schedules deem classroom educators as robots that follow instructions rather than professionals who analyze, research, review, assess, and respond with regard to the students who they are tasked to teach well. We know that there are countless ways to help students develop with confidence, skill, concept, and knowledge today, and to coach students forward requires deep and thoughtful effort on behalf of educators. To simply project a top-down approach to teachers then results in teachers that only have the time to do the same with students which further supports a less human, less rich, and less humane teaching/learning approach. Instead to look at the way we use time and then to spread the time-on-task with students out more throughout the system is to gain greater capacity for meaningful, targeted, and humane work with students.

The way we share and develop ideas is another systems issue. When educators work as silos with staccato schedules of idea share, growth is stifled, but when educators work with natural, fluid systems of idea share and development, the growth is more personal, engaging, and productive. Living systems models for system growth and development hold great potential for what we can do and how we can do it--we gain greater investment when we openly welcome the ideas from all stakeholders with dynamic idea processes and systems.

I don't believe that the old-time tight hierarchical structures of the past factory models of schools serve schools, educators, or students well today. I believe that education systems need to be modernized in ways that maintain some structure and also invite greater distributive leadership, fluid idea share and development, and the voice and choice of all stakeholders.