And what conditions create people who act like this?
These videos punctuated early conversations I had with teachers and leaders relevant to Race to the Top.They prompted the articulation of some important beliefs:
- RTTT will be translated differently inside of every system it lives in.
- We believe that all teachers have a vision of the difference they want to make and distinct expertise that must be mined in service to kids. We can choose to use this initiative to uncover and align vision. We can use the next four years to uncover this expertise and leverage it in better ways, too.
- We’re aware that our own frameworks, mindsets, and vision are critical to our success. We also know they can prevent us from recognizing and acting to our full potential on behalf of kids. We need to learn as much as we can from every opportunity that comes our way, especially from those who are different from us.
- We need to create the conditions wherein collaborative learning can occur. This can’t happen when people are feeling afraid.
- RTTT can’t be about “giving teachers stuff” in order to ensure they “get the work done.” It must be about collaborative and personal goal setting, engaging in inquiry that allows us to define quality together, determining how we will measure our success, and continually revising our thinking and our work in response to new things we discover.
- This will be a slow, uncomfortable process. We need to celebrate our willingness to engage in it. We also need to act in ways that will enable people to tolerate discomfort, take risks, and persevere as well.
We agreed that we don’t want to behave like the people on the escalator. We also agreed that we might not want to function like the pieces of the whole in the Honda Accord commercial either. The bigger conversations were about creating the conditions that would enable learning for everyone within the system and checking what we typically do against this new belief system as we move forward. Exciting and potentially daunting, too.
These were not superficial activities intended to secure some fleeting sense of buy-in. Rather, these initial conversations began to shape a deeper vision for HOW the work of RTTT would unfold within each of the systems I’m serving. We will need to return to this over and over again as we move forward. It’s important that these beliefs and the vision that emerged at the outset of our work together play a leading part in every planning meeting, work session, and building-level conversation that unfolds over time.
This will be the greater challenge of our work.
*These videos were first shared during Communities for Learning: Leading Lasting Change sessions last fall. I gain such inspiration from this group. Interested in joining us?