Having been a project manager for many years, Ive long believed in and experienced the power of diverse-group decision making.
Inevitably, teams of people, each bringing their unique perspectives to the table, come up with better, more complete, more creative and more successful solutions.
In the educational realm, I think everyone has been off trying to come up with solutions by themselves educators, administrators, District management, Government Ministries.
Why is it that we don’t talk to each other as much as we could? From the outside, I get the sense that there’s a bit of that leave it to the professionals attitude.
Is it too much effort to try to coordinate schedules? Are we worried that it takes too much effort to include people uninvolved in the day-to-day operations of our schools? And then they cant add value anyways? After all, what do parents know about what it takes to run a school? Or a District? And what do students know about what they really need from education?
And its hard to have completely open conversations and doors because that might expose your weaknesses, or open things up for criticism. We are, often by nature, defensive we want to put our best foot forward, not parade our challenges and weaknesses out for all to see! Do we really want the world to know that we don’t know how to solve a problem? Doesn’t everyone expect the experts to have all the answers? And really, doesn’t everyone have enough to do without opening another can of worms by asking people their opinion??
But are we sure that external partners don’t add value? Why would we think that kids are incapable of contributing to solutions about their own education? Another quote from Starbucks is that the person who sweeps the floor should pick the broom!
How much effort is it worth to come up with solutions that work? What if we had increased odds of finding successful ideas that everyone is invested in and working together on?
What if it resulted in kids engaged in their own learning? What if they were excited to come to school to learn and create and work together?
What if parents felt involved and knowledgeable about what was going on in classrooms? What if they were passionate about supporting their children’s teachers? What if they could support and reinforce at home what their kids are learning in school?
What if teachers felt trusted and safe to make mistakes in their own learning and change efforts? What if they felt supported and valued by the parents instead of judged and attacked? What if they already had relationships with all the parents in their class and could easily call one up to discuss their child’s learning without it feeling like cold calling someone you don’t even know (and who doesn’t want to hear from you!)?
What if Principals had time to build the team and the learning community relationships instead of being overwhelmed by the myriad of administrative tasks that swamp their days? What if they could do the same thing that they used to do with their classrooms (encourage, support each child’s learning, coach, bring out the best in everyone)?
How much more powerful would that make our education system?
And, as a result, how would that change education (having something taught TO you) into learning (participating in the learning process and learning WITH you)?
The way I see it, we can keep complaining about how the Government just doesn’t get the whole picture.
We can complain about how they just don’t understand that you cant measure successful education using standardized tests.
We can gripe about how the teachers not helping MY child and nobody cares.
We can shake our heads at all the parents who never even come to parent-teacher interviews.
We can work all hours just trying to get all the forms filled out, the lockers assigned, the reports completed, the is dotted and the ts crossed.
Or we can choose another way and actually TALK TO EACH OTHER! BUILD RELATIONSHIPS! COLLABORATE! AND LISTEN TO EACH OTHER!
It takes more effort, but isn’t it worth it?