I’m taken by the simplicity of this from Seth Godin, on the difference between wanting to be “better” or wanting to be “safer”:
“If you as a leader or boss are wanting your employees to be ‘better’ and they want ‘safer,’ it’s not going to work.” What a thought when considering the struggle & differences between public school administrators and public school teachers since NCLB and Common Core. For administration, the marching orders are absolutely to get better. And for teachers, there has been a decade-long outcry about not feeling safe — due to being monitored, pushed, measured — rather than being trusted to do the job as fixed experts, respected & appreciated.
For 20 years I worked on both sides and we definitely have, for the most part, both hardworking district & school site leadership that feels safe professionally only when they can show specific school improvements & academic outcomes — and hardworking teachers, defended by their unions, that as a group often articulate the need to feel safe before they will invest further into getting measurably better — perhaps the way an oxygen mask drops in a plane overhead and the adult uses it first in order to help a child.
The “aha” for me is that few administrators, staff or teachers seem to really feel we’ve gotten better or safer as K-12 educators or improved the conditions and outcomes of our overworked & over-tested kids.
It’s a great question my colleagues may consider in conversation with each other: for each of us, does better or safer come first?