Yesterday, our district dedicated the day to school-based staff development, with an emphasis on curricular issues. But, during the second-half of the day, I dedicated my high school grade-level team attention toward our ongoing planning/implementation of a school-wide positive behavior supports (PBS) program. I would be flat-out lying if I said this planning process went smoothly. I’d be accurately describing the process as frustrating, tiring, and uncomfortable. But, I’m ok with this. As a school leader, I believe that the planning process SHOULD be uncomfortable at times. And the more this uncomfort is experienced by team members, the more I believe it will finally become comfortable.
There are few on my staff that are not comfortable with this overall outcome. But, I believe strongly that as an organization works toward a goal, there will be moments of unease. Why? Well, as team members come together and kick-around ideas, brainstorm new ways and practices, challenge their own ideas and their peers, and/or move toward internalizing the purpose of the initiative, there will be debate and discourse. This is healthy. It’s healthy because, if facilitated properly, will ultimately lead to the desired change sought by the team.
During yesterday’s PBS action planning session, there was extremely divisive, yet healthy, dialogue about whether or not our PBS token reinforcements should be capped or unlimited for each class period. Members of both viewpoints presented their rationale and justification and helped each other better understand their beliefs. Overall, this process alone took nearly 45 minutes…which for many, is viewed as a tremendous waste of time. But, I believe otherwise. Our team needed this type of discussion before we could even progress further into our PBS planning and implementation. This was a critical conversation that NEEDED to occur, and probably should have occurred months ago.
As a school leader, it would be extremely easy to insert a top-down approach and “rule” or “mandate” the project’s outcomes. But that’s not democratic and yields no autonomy to the grade-level team. Our team needed to experience a critical conversation WITH EACH OTHER so they could grow as a team and better understand their own perspectives.
I believe that these critical, uncomfortable conversations need to be had on a regular basis. And soon enough, these “uncomfortable” conversations will feel comfortable and routine.
This blog entry was also published on my personal blog, Connected Educators.