attention, principal, school staff, talking

Dear Administrators – Will You Write to Me Instead?

Dear Administrators and Administrators To Be,
I know that some of you out there read this blog and for that I am very grateful.  I don’t often address you directly because I don’t feel it is my place but I have a simple plea as some of you embark on a new year.  An idea to plant, to spread and hopefully that can grow into a movement.  Something so simple, yet powerful, that we all should have realized a long time ago.

Many of us are in the midst of the back to school hustle in North America.  As excitement builds, time grows sparse and meetings pile up.  The other day I read a post from Lyn Hilt, a principal you should connect with if you don’t already know her, and something she stated rung so true to me that I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  She writes in her post about her in-service day “It’s Kind of Magical”

“Wait, Lyn, what about the laundry list of informational items you have to share with teachers on Day 1? Schedules, lunch and recess routines, important dates, blah, blah, blah?” I’m blessed with a faculty full of teachers who are capable of reading print.

See Lyn discovered something powerful.  We teachers can read, in fact, many of us are quite proficient readers and pay better attention to written information than to spoken words.  Many of us even tell our students’ parents that we prefer to communicate via email because it gives us time to digest, to process, and to reflect, while also providing a paper trail for all of our communication.  So what Lyn did, when she placed all of that important information for her teachers into a Google document was a huge step in the right direction; cutting out the time to tell teachers things that they can just as easily read on their own.

You see, people in education seem to be talkers, not all, but many, and so what happens at some of these meetings is that they drown in stories or longwinded explanations where really an email could have sufficed.

So dear administrators, as you plan for a new year or continue the one you are in, ask yourself whether what you need to say can be communicated in writing?  Can it be shared in a blog post for your school?  Can it be sent in an email?  A newsletter?  Or a Google doc for continued collaboration?  Can you spare your words and leave us time to collaborate instead?  Will you give your staff the gift of time to solve problems, share learning or even just cut out staff meetings (it has been done successfully)?  Will you go away from being the sage on the stage at meetings and welcome in more time for learning opportunities instead?

Lyn did it and so can you.   I wish you good luck and remember to keep it brief.

Best,

Pernille 

7 thoughts on “Dear Administrators – Will You Write to Me Instead?”

  1. Amen. On the flip side though… many of the teachers at my school are too busy to read emails, it seems. Sometimes they don't respond, don't accept calendar invitations, have to be reminded verbally. So what's the solution? 🙂

  2. I just learned about Google documents in my EDM 310 class. I had no idea how Google documents would be beneficial before this class. This post and the post of Lyn Hilt showed me yet another great use for Google documents! After learning how to use Google documents I am learning to love it! I love that she used Google documents in order to cut the time for the meeting and using that time for something more interactive! I hope to see more schools join in!@lnm801

  3. One of the first things that was taught to me as a new administrator: if it does not need to be discussed, don't have it on the agenda. Our staff meetings are mainly professional learning as they are always focused on motivation, assessment and other issues that drive us forward. Keep the memos in the inbox and enure the time spent face to face is used for dialogue.

  4. Edna, I know teachers are busy people. But having the opportunity to read documentation and info online at their own convenience is the key, in my opinion. I'm not sure wasting their time in a meeting is any different that asking them to spend some time reading some info. When I first went "digital" with most of my communications, there were a lot of bumps in the road. People claimed to have not received info, wanted it in print, etc. I explained that providing info digitally was how I operated, and it was efficient, and I wasn't going back. If they wanted the info, they needed to access the documents electronically. Slowly, but surely, all of my teachers are now accessing info online. In fact, they're now Google doc-ing with each other to collaborate, share, and lesson and unit plan together. I consider it a professional responsibility. If they've been supported in using the tech, and they still refuse to follow protocols required by admin such as accepting calendar invites, they're frankly insubordinate. -Lyn

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