This article won 1st prize in the Intrepid Ed News Summer Writing Contest. The writing prompt was: “I think my profession needs…” Congratulations to Gillian Barnes!
As a school leader, my profession needs to couple reflection and action more effectively. I see this problem every day. Educators and educational administrators fall into one of two categories: reflection experts or action-oriented professionals. These two camps need to work better together.
As a marketing and communications leader, I am conditioned to notice metrics, tangents, or “weak points” in a system. People classify me as the person who can poke holes in any argument, and as such, since entering the educational realm, I notice that these two types of people are both highly intelligent and want to make change, but they stand in their own way.
Here’s what I mean.
The Two Types
The reflection experts are deep thinkers and have big ideas. They love diving into books about theory and talking at length about which ones they loved best. Reflection experts are also quoted more often when they enact change because they document the process fastidiously. However, reflection experts may take years.
The action-oriented professionals, on the other hand, are passionate. They stoke the flames and demand change. They are extremely inspiring and will be remembered as changemakers, advocates, and revolutionaries. However, action-oriented professionals rarely document their work, have difficulty replicating it, and fall victim to half-baked ideas. They also tend to burn out quickly.
Some overlap exists, but most educators and administrators tend to lean one way or the other. Both types are important, but they rarely take time to work together effectively. The future of education will arrive when these two disparate groups form a repeatable, actionable system that can be emulated.
So how do we get there?
Plan in Advance, But Prepare to Adapt
Particularly when it comes to events that happen each year, schools (and businesses in general) fall into a trap of under preparing and overreaching. They have lofty goals and leave themselves one day to accomplish the improbable, which is a recipe for failure.
While most schools are able to pull off the improbable due to sheer grit, this stress is unnecessary. School leaders need to completely plan a year, with consideration for events, programming, and important messaging, while leaving room for deviation due to current events. A baseline helps schools lower stress levels and…