Saturday, December 6, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 341

If you spend all your time talking about problems, you'll never have any time left to design solutions.    

So, as I was checking Voxer this morning, I came across the following image:

First off, everything in the first bullet is true.  Admins are not comfortable (though this is more of a opinionated word than I might have chosen) with leaders and learners taking time out of the classroom to participate in professional learning.

The second bullet is only partially true. Admins are asking staff not to miss days in the classroom, but in most cases (and in my regional and state experience), not because they don't want them to share their learning.  In fact, I know of no leader who is making decisions based on this.

Let's be clear, the issue of giving those who want to learn the time to do so is a huge problem in education that needs to be solved.  No one would disagree with this.

And granted, I haven't seen the rest of this presentation, so I'm flying with no navigation on what comes next or came before.

But, I want to take a moment to dissect this slide, because I think there is a lot of leadership learning in here.  First, by saying, "...not comfortable with many of you taking time out. . ." in the leading bullet, the presentation automatically encourages an "Us v. Them" mentality.  As we know as learners and leaders, that type of mentality makes fixing a problem, near impossible.  Second, it is using what appears to be one teacher's direct experience to make a generalization that is simply not correct in all instances.  The leaders I know who are saying "No" to professional learning leaves are doing so because they can't even afford to bring in substitutes for coverage purposes.

Yes.  That's right.  Schools are so concerned about finances, that they're worried about substitute costs.  I know of no leader who is actively discouraging attendance because he/she is fearful that an educator who is educated is dangerous to the leader, school, or district.  In fact, that's actually a scary comment to insinuate, particularly if we want to work together to solve this problem.

Finally, the slide is all about problems, and nowhere about solutions.  Imagine if the slide kept the same first bullet, but the second bullet said something like this:

- We need to work with our building and district leaders to find ways to get access to these opportunities.  Here are some possibilities: Conducting a fundraiser to support targeted professional learning, allowing teachers and leaders to create PLC teams, take turns attending workshops and then turnkeying to the group, working with organizations to provide professional learning time during the summer or breaks and/or conducting educator-selected professional learning on-site and during classroom periods, in the classroom.

If all we do is focus on the problem, no matter what we do, we'll never have time to generate the solutions.  And unfortunately, this slide adopts just as much of a "No" stance as that of the administrators it is speaking out against.

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