To help encourage conversations and dialogue about trust and courage, our topic/question(s) of the week are: What does courage look like? How can you be courageous this week? Trust and Courage (Week of 3/25/18) (This is an anonymous Google Form)
Blake's Guiding Lights
Blake's Core Values: Respect, Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Reflection
Our Essential Question: How can we cultivate and curate the progression of student learning and growth?
Our Mission: Blake Middle School believes in a living mission statement, based on the concept that our community seeks and respects knowledge, integrity, character, wisdom, and the willingness to adapt to a continually evolving world.
With this past weekend marking the end of Term 2 and beginning of Term 3 as we start to say goodbye to March, I hope that everyone was able to find some time to relax, unplug, and have some fun. It was nice to be able to go for a run on Friday afternoon and have a relaxed evening with the kids. For the rest of the weekend I was at the ASCD Empower18 conference in Boston with other members of our administrative team, thanks to the generosity of MCPE. It was energizing and rewarding and I look forward to sharing the learning in the future with everyone.
Where am I going with this? As I was reflecting about the week and mapping out my sessions for the #Empower18 conference this weekend, I was struck by the varied topics that were being discussed and presented. The topics spanned the areas we are all focusing on each day with our students - social/emotional learning, curriculum advancements, global competencies, restorative justice, grading practices, differentiated instruction - the list goes on and on. As I have shared before, it is so hard to talk about any of these in isolation as they all overlap in an appropriately messy fashion...we can not talk about SEL without talking about curriculum, we can not talk about curriculum without talking about grading practices, etc.
Every student has unique areas of strength and growth, as does every teacher, school, and district. Yet, there are certain commonalities that we all share when it comes to needs and conditions that foster healthy, safe, learning environments. As you know I cherish opportunities for professional development and am very interested in growing as an educator and as a leader, specifically striving to foster a learning environment that is both nurturing and challenging. Those are the sessions I find myself drawn towards - and, I am always struck by those elements that are common for all of us no matter what phase of growth and expertise we are experiencing. The three posts below highlight attributes that have proven to be essential for effective environments - a spirit of courage, a culture of trust, and an environment that values relationships.
Courage Over Comfort: Rumbling with Shame, Accountability, and Failure at Work
by Brene Brown (@BreneBrown)
Brown's post recalls a story about a manager who 'opened up' and displayed the courage to show vulnerability to his employees. This touches on the importance of openness and trust, also connecting to her work with shame and empathy.
I think the people who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses in this world. This is especially true of people who rumble with failure. These are people who choose courage over comfort, accountability over blame, and are able to embed key learnings from failures into their lives.
Here’s a person who didn’t have to own anything—a leader who could have shifted the blame to his own team or to the brand’s disrespectful team. But instead, he had the courage to feel pain, to recognize that he was feeling shame, to reach out and be vulnerable with a friend, to own his part, and to stand in front of his team and be accountable. The difference between I am a screwup and I screwed up may look small, but in fact it’s huge. Many of us will spend our entire lives trying to slog through the shame swampland to get to a place where we can give ourselves permission to both be imperfect and to believe we are enough. Failure can become our most powerful path to learning if we’re willing to choose courage over comfort.
Google spent years studying effective teams — and one trait stood out
by Justin Bariso in Business Insider
Bariso highlights Google's in-depth study in the interest of identifying the traits that are most effective for teams, and 'psychological safety' (or trust) stood out. This has a direct connection to Amy Edmondson's work as well. The post highlights certain actions that encourage a culture of trust, fostering psychological safety: Listen first; Show empathy; Be authentic; Set the example; Be helpful; Disagree and commit; Be humble; Be transparent; Commend sincerely and specifically.
The researchers found that what really mattered was less about who is on the team, and more about how the team worked together. What mattered most: Trust. So what was the most important factor contributing to a team's effectiveness? It was psychological safety. Simply put, psychological safety refers to an individual's perception of taking a risk, and the response his or her teammates will have to taking that risk.
Relationships, Risk-Taking, and Innovation
by George Couros (@gcouros)
Couros's post references the post above and Google's study - within the post, Couros emphasizes relationships and trust as the foundation for innovation.
As you think about your role as an educational leader and the level of trust in your school or district, consider the following questions:
• Do people often ask me for permission or guidance?
• Have I created an environment where risks are not only encouraged but expected?
• How have I highlighted the great work being done by our school to others in and out of the organization?
These questions are about innovation, but they’re also the importance of relationships in creating a “culture of innovation.” In fact, relationships are crucial for innovation, which is why you’ll always hear me say that the three most important words in education are: relationships, relationships, relationships. Without them, we have nothing.
...relationships and trust are the foundation of moving forward, not only for our work with our colleagues, but for the growth of the individuals in our classrooms.
These posts have helped to center me as to what it is that matters most and what we are working towards as a school community. Having the trust and courage within - both within ourselves and within our community - are critical attributes of a healthy culture. And, it is important to remember that we can show these 'one step at a time' and, sometimes, by just showing up for one another. Let's continue to be there for our students, one another, and ourselves.