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.