I don’t know about where you are in your planning, but I have to believe you are in a place where you’re starting to plan out next year. It is admissions season for us, and that means handbooks, tuition, dress codes, etc. must all be completed asap. As I look at our school handbook, I see a lot of outdated processes and requirements. There is 1 that I keep hearing about that I’m not sure what to do with and I don’t believe it is something that can be decided in a short amount of time or without quite a bit of debate.
Homework or no homework?
CNN.com posted an article in September 2015 regarding whether or not we should ban homework in schools. Mark Barnes has a book in the first wave of his Hack Learning Series titled Hacking Homework. You can find conversations all over Facebook and Twitter regarding the subject. I won’t share my opinion just yet, but I want to hear from you. Read some articles and chat with your mentors/mentees about your philosophy on homework on your campuses. Of course, much depends on grade level and subject area – or does it? It is an interesting conversation no matter which side you sit on. I can’t wait to read your thoughts.
Be sure to share on Twitter using the #SAVMP hashtag and in the title of your blog. I’m sure these will get some conversation happening! Add the hashtag #HomeworkOrNo to your tweets to keep it going!
A few resources:
TED Community Discussion
Charted by Statista – original article on Forbes.com
In this hangout instructional leaders Miguel Guhlin, Shannon Fuller, Ben Gilpen and Gerald Hudson discuss how they would handle three critical conversations with their staff.
“We succeed or fail one conversation at a time.”
Hard conversations are never easy. Regardless of how “right” they may be, it doesn’t make it any easier on the person giving it, or the person receiving it. It can be one of the most difficult parts of an administrators job, and can easily turn into a disaster. When problems arise, in the worst companies people will withdraw into silence. In the best companies, people will hold a crucial confrontation, face to face and in the moment. And they’ll hold it well.
Dialogue example – Steps to Mastering a Crucial Conversation
Before embarking on a critical, or crucial, conversation…ask yourself these three questions:
- How important is it for the students or staff that I bring this up? Is it a “me” thing or is it an”impacting student success” thing?
- Is what is going on in the classroom unsafe or damaging to students or staff?
- What would happen if I didn’t have the conversation?
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Have a plan. Who will be involved in the conversation? Where will it take place? When will it happen? Will it be documented?
- What should your role be? Remember to listen to all parties involved. Be genuine in your efforts to resolve the issue at hand. Find a solution that fits. Beware of hidden agendas.
- You are the LEADER. It all begins and ends with you. The tone, intent, and follow through are all going to depend on how you handle the situation.
There will be a google hangout this week on “Critical Conversations”, stay tuned! (I will update this post when time and guests are decided!)
For your prompt for this week, blog about how you handle crucial conversations and at what point you step in to have them. What advice would you give to a new administrator in having to have a crucial, or fierce, conversation?
Have a great week, and where ever you are, stay warm!
Resources used and for more information:
Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time
Critical Conversations for Dummies
Dr. Christina Schlachter
In my first year as Assistant Principal, I had an argument with one of the teachers on best practice. I did not know her well, but I was very bothered by the situation and it had an impact on my ego. I was mortified that she would challenge me so quickly. Over the next two years, she would often challenge many ideas that had been presented by the admin team, but as I got to know her, I understood that she was always focused on what was best for kids. With new ideas, we would go to her and ask her thoughts, and she would often disagree. We would then rework some of our ideas, present it again to her, and she would like that we both listened to her input while also willing to take action because of it. She had a lot of influence with staff because she was a great teacher, but also because she always spoke her mind. When I was hired as a Principal in the district, I took her with me and she became my Assistant Principal. I knew she would never leave me to do something that she thought was wrong and would challenge me when I needed to be challenged. That is how I wanted my team to be.
As a leader, it is imperative that you focus on the “best ideas”, not “your ideas”. Sometimes they can be the same thing, but if you have a group around you that only agrees and is worried about challenging ideas, we often make the wrong decisions for kids.
Here is a quote from Harvard Business Review on “groupthink”:
Let’s be honest: for the most part, we gravitate toward people who hold a lot of the same beliefs that we do. It’s human nature. But for anyone in a leadership position, this basic human urge can also be your kryptonite. If you surround yourself with too many like-minded colleagues, that is, you can create a culture of group think. That’s not good. Just take a look back at U.S. history. Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of military action in Vietnam, John F. Kennedy’s invasion of Cuba — many historians have argued that these mistakes were fuelled by too many team members refusing to voice their opposition. So every leader should take this advice to heart: never shy away from opposition; welcome it — better yet, encourage it, then encourage it some more.
When is it the right time to go against consensus though? With school needing to change, sometimes a majority of staff could want to stay in the same mindset and practice that could also be hurting the future of our students.
I encourage you to blog or comment on the following:
How do you create a culture where “pushback” is encouraged?
How do you know when to stick with the minority over the majority?
How do you create a team that will give you honest feedback?
Have a great week!