Sunday, March 17, 2013
Questions and leadership
This morning, I peeked in on George Couros' blog for the first time in a while, and I happily got lost for a time in his thinking and questioning. George is thoughtful, innovative, and interesting. But, he isn't a classroom teacher; he's a principal, one of a growing number who are bring their practice into the light and reflecting on what it means to be a good school leader and lead learner.
I started following George on Twitter (@gcouros) quite early because even in tweets, he gives me pause. He firmly believes, as I do, that we need to start teaching kids how to consciously and purposefully use technology, especially social media. He fostered a community of sharing and reflection at his last school by encouraging blogging by all of the staff and then getting kids involved, too (he's a division principal now, so he's bringing these ideas to many schools). But, George doesn't believe in technology for technology's sake, either. He advocates conversations between IT and instructional design to ensure that policies are purposeful and balanced, too. In short, he's the kind of principal I wish everyone had.
George's most recent post, "Questions and Ownership," resonated with me (and sent me down the rabbit hole to find more that I'd missed). When talking with an administrator frustrated by the slow pace of change, George asked her whether she had shared her vision with her staff and what questions she had asked of them. What a simple change! Ask a staff what they thought the effects of a proposed change would be and building consensus through the answers given. Then, follow up with a question on how leadership could help make that change successful. Imagine how much different a workplace would be if a leader didn't try to provide all of the answers, but instead let the staff take ownership and supported the implementation of new ideas.
I can see myself being the administrator George spoke in my classroom sometimes. Yes, I have the vision of where we need to go. The time factor and the expectations of parents, students, colleagues, and community sometimes drive me to get there in the fastest way possible. But really, what do the students remember if they don't own it? Imagine what would happen if students take ownership and my job becomes more about supporting the learning of new ideas. What would that look like if I did it on a more regular basis?
Questions are powerful, underutilized tools.