Tuesday, April 6, 2010


It looks like I do have a job next year. I will also give credit to my district for being transparent at this meeting. This is the first time we have been given all the information, but it was very clear.

The board meeting had a higher turn out than usual but most of those affected by the rif were not there. I just don't understand that. I knew I was probably not affected by the rif at this point, but you better believe I wanted all the facts and details because I was even close to it. I guess for a lot of people it really is enough to just know the "what" of the rif. I don't understand that. I always want the detailed explanation of the "why". Some people think this trait is cynicism, but I think that is a fallacy. Cynicism is a reluctance to accept any facts, but wanting to ask why is a search for a deeper understanding. I'm not saying that I'm never cynical. I'm just saying that wanting to understand the facts isn't cynicism.

I know this is a really technical entry for this blog, but my allegiance to empirical thinking really affects my life as a teacher. A lot of my conflict between what I see as politics verses practice in education is generated by the way that I think. I am going to give an example.

When I am sitting in a staff meeting and someone says, "You need to do x in your classroom. It is best practice," I look at whatever they are suggesting and I try to comprehend it. As I think it through, I note the gaps in my own understanding. I always try to clarify. I might say, "So, doing x in my classroom fosters y." Of course, as I get a deeper understanding of what is being suggested the holes in the logic become more apparent. I might then note, "It seems like x doesn't account for c, e, and b." To me, it's an empirical discussion, but it is sometimes viewed as cynicism.

A lot of my colleagues in education are more heart people than head people. I learn a lot from them because this is a field about people and the heart matters. My obsession with facts and logic isn't always helpful in a classroom, but I think it is a good thing to have heart and head people in schools together.

I just got so frustrated tonight when the board kept dwelling on how to tell people and how to deal with the human element. I just think, "Well, it doesn't change the facts. They present a budget scenario to these teachers." I would prefer that if I were in their shoes, but then again, I would be at the board meeting taking notes...


Anonymous said...

Go buy the book from Gallup that comes with a code to take their online StrengthsFinder 2.0 test. It's about $13-14 on Amazon. Gallup identified about 35 "stengths" that people use in their life. The test will give you your top 5, which helped me identify and understand my strongest ways to approach problem solving.

I say this because what you describe as wanting to know the "why" lines up very closely with a strength that I have, which I imagine you would as well. I can tell you're confident in your "why" asking, but in my opinion it was really satisfying to see my strengths according to Gallup and feel that experts somewhere appreciate the value of them, and then start identifying solutions in my work that play to the strengths I have.

luckeyfrog said...

I don't think it's a bad thing to be analytical, but I've felt awkward about it before myself.

I always feel like the principal probably thinks I don't take criticism well, when in reality I just want to explain myself more and have him explain his criticisms well after an observation!