Ah, the good ol’ question “What if?” As a parent, I have answered this question countless times from my two daughters. The latest was “What if we mixed lotion, soap, pencil shavings, and crayons all together and put it in the fridge overnight?” As tempting as it was to say “please don’t do that”, I had just finished chapter 7 of The Innovator’s Mindset, and decided to let them just go for it.
One of the questions George Couros proposes is “What if schools operated as if we should all be learners, as opposed to students being the only learners?” This question resonated with me because both campuses I serve are Professional Learning Communities (PLC). Richard DuFour defines a PLC as “an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve”. According to DuFour, “professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators”. This is easier said than done as a leader on a campus.
What I have seen most often in my short time experiencing the PLC mindset in action is that teachers want to go see other teachers in action to learn from them, but if anyone from administration wants to go and see what’s going on in a classroom, it’s because that teacher is doing something wrong. When Couros wrote about how he would just spend the day in a teacher’s classroom, and eventually become invisible in a sense, I have to admit I was jealous. I would love the opportunity to just hang out in a classroom for even half the day and become a fly on the wall. Not because that teacher is doing something wrong, but exactly the opposite! I am certain each and every teacher on my campuses is a stellar educator, and I want to model the PLC process by being able to observe them without a stigma attached.
So, I guess the next question for my campuses and administration is “What if we made it a point to go hang out in classrooms for a couple of hours to learn, not judge?” How much more comfortable would teachers be with me coming in to planning as well? How much better would I know their kids and classroom environment? I’m sure the outcome would be nothing short of positive.
Oh, and what happens if you put lotion, soap, pencil shavings, and crayons in the fridge? Spoiler alert…not a lot. But my girls now know that they can come to me again when they have another “What if?” question burning in their brains!