The Reflection Pool

Whose Problem is it Anyway?

Photo Credit: FutUndBeidl via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: FutUndBeidl via Compfight cc

In a recent post, I shared how our principal learning team has grown over time and established trust. Our primary purpose in meeting is to help each other explore our problems of practice through a collaborative inquiry process.  Problems of practice are pressing, urgent and defy solutions, despite our best efforts. They are problems that we need to investigate and think deeply about.

Inquiry Framework

  1. Formulate an inquiry question;
  2. Develop a working hypothesis i.e.,  If I do this, then this will happen.
  3. Create success criteria;
  4. implement the plan;
  5. Analyse evidence in relation to the success criteria;
  6. Reflect on the learning using evidence;
  7. Share the learning;
  8. Identify next steps.

As a team, we talk about each step of the process and ask rich, coaching questions to help deepen our understanding. The process is more circular than linear.

My problem of practice comes from the evidence I gathered from staff feedback on a leadership survey. I discussed those results in a previous post (Feedback. Priceless). In addition, I have read several excellent books about trust that have helped me understand the trust-buidling process better. (See the list here.) With our PLT’s help, I came up with the following working hypothesis and action plan:

“If I build a culture of trust and openness, then all staff will be open to talking about practice, sharing craft knowledge, observing one another, and rooting for one another’s success.”

1) Demonstrate openness to new ideas and be accepting of staff suggestions
  • Staff will come to me regularly with ideas and questions;
  • When staff approach me, I will smile and give them my full attention;
  • I will listen actively without judging;
  • I will use questioning instead of telling in conversations.
2) Better communication and transparency about decisions
  • I will email or tell teachers about decisions involving their students and classrooms (e.g., suspensions, parent contact, attendance etc.);
  • I will respond to questions honestly and openly, explaining rationale for processes and decisions.

3) Extend Trust – don’t withhold it because there is risk involved
  • I extend trust to staff to take charge of their professional learning within learning teams;
  • I extend trust to staff to take on leadership roles.

I shared these actions and success criteria with our teachers, educational assistants, early childhood educators, and office administrators.  And now..I’m working on them! Stay tuned for results and reflections.