mccoyderek

The Grey Area [Creating Options]

Several years ago, an assistant superintendent used this graphic in a talk with a room full of assistant principals to help explain some possible  motivations and actions in stakeholder decision making:

Her talk and this image made such an impression on me, I remember it vividly 10 years later.

The focus here is the grey area. The grey area represents many things. Pertinent to this talk, it represents the objectivity, point of view, and willingness of the involved parties to negotiate. When there is an issue on the table, school leaders are dealing with students and parents who want [or need] a particular outcome and that is the focus of the conversation. What can I do or say to get a particular outcome? What will it take to change from this outcome to another outcome?

The hierarchy in the graphic shows how perspectives typically change as the conversation moves up the ladder. Again, this is generally speaking. During this trainig, we were being instructed on a need to be willing to consider multiple options and not be limited to a few options. Increasing the number of options helps us with resolving conflicts.

Using this model can help us in our efforts in leading change in our schools. Change is difficult for some of our stakeholders and a ‘black/white’ viewpoint often accompanies a hesitance to change. Consider a recent conversation you may have had with a teacher about the need to change or adopt a different approach. Those conversations often involve not being able to see options or neither party really considering/creating different options. We’re more rigid when there are only two options ahead of us.

The school leader who can help the stakeholder realize that there are more options available that may be seen or discussed will be more successful in implementing change because he/she will do a better job with improving buy-in. We increase our buy-in and help build our vision more when others feel empowered to create choices.

New Commitments

Happy 2011!

It’s great that we’ve been blessed to see the beginning of another year! This is the time we normally set resolutions for the new year on things we’d like to do better or different. For educators, resolutions mean something else. We’ve already made a commitment to students at the beginning of the school year and we won’t abandon them. What this time offers us is a break/opportunity to disengage [for a moment] so we can re-engage and come back stronger.

This break offers a gift of reflection – an opportunity to examine our practices and philosophies to determine if we need to make changes for student learning. We place so much emphasis on resolutions because it’s a big deal to commit and then to change – and seeing long term changes makes a bigger impression. What would that change look like for you?
  • Committing to making regular contact to parents with the purpose of impacting a difference in student behavior and habits
  • Committing to changing a classroom practice that’s been routine for you but may not be in best interest for students
  • Committing to using a 2.0 tool that would be a stretch for you to learn/integrate but would really show kids the changing/shrinking world they live in
  • Committing to connecting to other educators and engaging in best practices dialogue
We wake up and put new efforts in place reach kids. This is a great time to look objectively at what we do and think and commit to doing better for the students!