My new job has me thinking quite a bit about the flow of systems. For the majority of my career, I’ve been at one end of the educational system – in the classroom – working directly with students and other teachers to make learning and formal education better.
Now, I find myself somewhere in the middle of the system. I’m not in charge of anything, per se, at either end of the system. I support teachers and students and I support the leadership of the district. Sometimes (not often) that support looks drastically different.
I’ve found myself realizing and hoping for a specific string of trust to be enacted and embodied by the district.
It starts like this – Trust that teachers are doing all they can to support students’ growth and learning.
From there, direct interactions should be set up in such a way to give them support they need to do what they feel they need to do to help kids. This would be at the principal level. From there, outside the schools, intermediate district personnel should move to support principals based on the assumption that they trust that teachers are doing all they can to support students’ growth and learning.
If I believe that’s what principals believe, I’m going to be better at my job.
The same assumption is what I hope for those to whom I report. As I move through schools, help teachers and administrators learn and consider new practices, I hope that those in charge of me assume that I trust that teachers are doing all they can to support students growth and learning.
I want others to assume it in the system, and I want those others to assume that I believe it as well.
If we all operate from this believe, if we all trust that teachers are doing all they can to support students’ growth and learning, a foundation is established on which we can build, improve and design pathways to even greater capacity.
Assuming teachers are doing all they can is not assuming that they are doing the absolute best, it is assuming that they are doing their absolute best in the moment, and that it can always be augmented.
If I work with a group of teachers to build capacity around some new tool or practice, approaching our time together from the assumption that they are doing all they can will result in conversations much more replete with respect, listening, and care than conversations based on the assumption they are slacking, skating, or faking their way through the school year.
I want the best for anyone who endeavors to add to the learning, understanding, and choices of students. The best way I can think of to support and work alongside these folks is to trust they are doing the best they can and move from there.