I feel one of the toughest things to do in a team is pull someone up for exaggerating or fabricating the truth to make them appear hard working, professional or with greater expertise than may in fact be the case or indeed to cover up the reality they may not understand the expectations whatsoever.
I just read this post by Dan Rockwell where he identifies 10 tactics that produce brilliant solutions. The two that stood out for me were the following;
Ask tough questions. One of the saddest things I’ve seen leaders do is listen to bull crap. Exposing smoke-blowers motivates people to prepare for meetings and discussions.
Terminate drifters and butt kissers. They just take up space and drain vitality from real workers. Spend time with honest hard thinkers.
It actually takes me back to a lecturer I had at University back in the mid 90’s, as a group of students we knew that we could sabotage the entire 2 hour workshop by setting our lecturer off on an unrelated tangent by prompting him with different ethical issues. He loved to talk and we took absolute advantage of this, and rarely ever had to complete our readings because we were never accountable to respond of reflect upon them. Two hours would be over before he had a chance to ask any questions about our required tasks or homework.
The same can happen though when people within a team take up air time sprouting fanciful accounts minimising the opportunity to actually get on with the real work, in an attempt to avoid the tough questions. Especially if they’re allowed to.
So here-in lies the challenge. We work with people, with sensitivities, insecurities and different mindsets including the need to be admired by peers. How do we create an environment where people can be challenged to be honest both with their peers and themselves, by asking tough questions in a supportive environment where it then becomes more acceptable to respond “I have not done that”, “I don’t know how to do that”, “I need help to understand what is expected”.
How do we make it more admirable to admit that we are having difficulty or don’t know what to do, as opposed to affirmed for making stuff up to avoid “being found out”?
Lately I have been thinking about this idea of accountability and responsibility. There is a lot of talk and action around making teachers accountable for the outcomes of their students and leaders being accountable for the outcomes of staff and school performance.
Trying to get staff motivated to develop their skills and improve their practice has meant I have had to look closely at how I can do this. In my own classroom one of my strengths is to respond to the needs and interests of my students. The relationships and connections I make with them and their families impacts directly on how I engage them in learning. I have had great success with students whom have been disconnected from learning or had poor school experiences in the past.
So why is it that I approach connecting with staff in their learning differently?
I think it boils down to my own beliefs about teaching and the assumption that others hold the same.
Recently I had a parent call after school to notify me of her child’s inappropriate online behaviour at home. The call was two-fold. She wanted to let me know how she had responded and to seek guidance as to if this was correct and what she should do next. The timing for the call was not ideal as I was about to facilitate a workshop with staff, however I chose to engage in the conversation and reassure my parent letting her know I would support her and speak to the student the following day. On completion of the call, a staff member inquired as to what the call was all about and when I explained briefly, she protested “That’s not your job!”
I responded in a manner which I often do, with humour and replied “In here (teachers name), we like to solve all the world’s problems”.
What I SHOULD have done, is perhaps forget the workshop which I was about to conduct and engage the people in that room in a discussion constructing an idea of what our job IS. Perhaps taking this detour may have impacted on a few to see our roles as more than purely curriculum deliverers.
Do I think I have no responsibility the moment my students walk out the gate and the bell rings at 3:15pm? Absolutely not. Do I think I am accountable for the things that happen to my students at home ….no. Do I think that what happens at home impacts on what takes place in my classroom? DEFINITELY. I think that by supporting my students and their families, I will increase their engagement at school and their access to learning. I believe that if I have a working partnership with my families they will support us when things may not be going so well.
I love this by Dean Shareski..
I do feel a responsibility to my students and their families, I am focussed on that responsibility as opposed to being accountable to anyone or anything. I believe this has a greater impact on their learning experiences.