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Lean Production | Jacobin
"School managers promote teams as empowering for teachers; according to management, they give teachers a say in how their schools are run. In reality, these meetings highlight how little control teachers have over their time and workload at lean schools… In fact, the apparent purpose of teacher teams is to shift administrative workload onto teachers."

"The goal of lean education isn’t teaching or learning; it’s creating lean workplaces where teachers are stretched to their limits so that students can receive the minimum support necessary to produce satisfactory test scores. It is critical for teachers to see this clearly because lean production is indeed “continuous”: in other words, it’s insatiable. The harder teachers work to satisfy the demands of lean managers, the harder we will be pushed, until we break down. There is no end to this process."
leadership  administration  teamleadership  tfa  schoolsasbusiness  business  teamwork  criticalfriends  mikeparker  janeslaughter  michaelbloomberg  wendykopp  valueadded  assessment  charleyrichardson  2012  danieljones  jameswomack  tcsnmy  efficiency  production  schools  teaching  leanproduction  capitalism  publiceducation  taylorism  labor  teachforamerica 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Swedish School De-emphasizes Gender Lines - NYTimes.com
"What has become a passionate undertaking for its teachers actually began with a nudge from Swedish legislators, who in 1998 passed a bill requiring that schools, including day care centers, assure equal opportunities for girls and boys.

Spurred by the law, the teachers at Nicolaigarden took the unusual step of filming one another, capturing their behavior while playing with, eating with or just being with the center’s infants to 6-year-olds.

“We could see lots of differences, for example, in the handling of boys and girls,” said Lotta Rajalin, who directs the center and three others, which she visits by bicycle. “If a boy was crying because he hurt himself, he was consoled, but for a shorter time, while girls were held and soothed much longer,” she said. “With a boy it was, ‘Go on, it’s not so bad!’ ”

The filming, she said, also showed that staff members tended to talk more with girls than with boys, perhaps explaining girls’ later superior language skills…"
via:litherland  neutrality  gender-neutrality  criticalfriends  change  egalitarianism  egalia  egaliaschool  nicolaigarden  nicolaigardenschool  sweden  2012  observation  preschool  education  gender 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Look at yourself objectively (Aaron Swartz's Raw Thought)
"Looking at ourselves objectively isn’t easy. But it’s essential if we ever want to get better. And if we don’t do it, we leave ourselves open to con artists and ethical compromisers who prey on our desire to believe we’re perfect. There’s no one solution, but here are some tricks I use to get a more accurate sense of myself:

Embrace your failings. …

Studiously avoid euphemism. …

Reverse your projections. …

Look up, not down. …

Criticize yourself. …

Find honest friends. …

Listen to the criticism. …

Take the outside view."
constructivecriticism  vulnerability  humility  honesty  oprah  mindchanging  mindchanges  change  behavior  ignazsemmelweis  learning  feedback  advice  self-improvement  wisdom  fear  failure  psychology  self-image  perspective  euphemisms  criticalfriends  collegiality  criticism  self-criticism  selfimprovement  2012  aaronswartz 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Getting To No
"Structural Obstacles

To begin with, teaching differs from most professions in being such an idiosyncratic craft. The immediacy of the classroom, its unpredictability and social complexity, makes teaching not just an intensely involving occupation but also an innately individualistic one. In many respects, teachers are, as Michael Huberman, author of The Lives of Teachers, observed, “independent artisan[s]” — tinkerers, intellectual craftspeople who use whatever they can find in their workshop to solve the problems presented by the project they are working on — and who work autonomously. Teachers are not deliverers of highly scripted, linear, instructional sequences; they are skillful, adaptive improvisers who must be able to modify a lesson plan on the fly whenever necessary. Much of what any educator does is highly personal, and over time, every teacher develops a unique instructional repertoire, a set of personal, artful, but often tacit assumptions and responses.5 This is true even for those who team-teach together and those who employ a similar classroom methodology.

“The entrenched norms that prevail among teachers have always been those of autonomy and privacy, not those of “open exchange, cooperation, and growth.”

What this means is that technical communication among teachers is more difficult, less necessary, and in some ways even less appropriate than it might seem…

[…]

Personal Obstacles

The nature of teaching and the structure of schooling pose significant challenges to collegiality, but the larger obstacles are personal; they lie in the make-up of teachers themselves. They were captured bluntly for me by a veteran history teacher, known to his administrators as “The Grouch,” who objected to his school’s effort to create PLC’s this way: “We don’t see the necessity. Plus, if — if — we had any time available, we’d rather spend it with students.”"

[…]

Conflict Avoidance

These tendencies in teachers help explain why so few schools go beyond congeniality. But there is an additional personal obstacle, one that is powerful and pervasive: educators are profoundly conflict avoidant. Teaching attracts people with a strong security orientation and a strong service ethic, not entrepreneurs with a thirst for risk and competition. It also attracts people who tend to be less worldly than, say, corporate professionals. Teachers try to accentuate the positive. They wish to help, foster, inspire, and encourage the best in students. They generally like people and want to be liked. And they take their work very personally. All of which makes them loathe to risk direct disagreement with or criticism of one another.

[…]

Avoiding conflict is not a terrible flaw. Schools have never resembled corporations. They’ve always been more like villages — venues where feelings are often powerful, but their expression must be measured. The price of civilization is restraint — and gossip. No village — no relationship — can survive total candor. Villagers, including the elders, often can’t speak their minds fully, but they also can’t contain all the feelings that are stirred in the course of living and working together. Hence, when they disagree or feel inclined to criticize, they often talk about one another instead of to one another. So it is in schools.

No wonder, then, that efforts at collaboration and collegiality are ever fragile — hard to start, hard to sustain. But although the obstacles are significant, there is much that can be done. And most of the key steps are simple. They’re not necessarily easy, but they are plain rather than fancy, straightforward rather than complex, and they draw in part on skills that teachers routinely apply in their work with students. Coping begins with commitment."

[…]

Disabling Avoidance: The Third-Time Rule

It is easy to get educators to agree that conflict avoidance interferes with their work and that they should take up significant issues directly with those involved. It is something else again to translate this into action. To many teachers, the very norms of avoidance they acknowledge as problematic also feel insurmountable, especially in one-to-one interactions. One way to cope with this dilemma is to formally adopt a simple agreement: Don’t be the third party the third time about any issue that bears importantly on the work of the school. This means that if Teacher A complains about Teacher B to Teacher C, C can listen, make suggestions, and so on, and can do so again if A returns to complain. But the third time, C must invoke the Third-Time Rule and insist that A take the issue to B. Otherwise C has become part of the problem, even if she didn’t create it, and is reinforcing a culture of avoidance, of talking about one another instead of to one another.

As noted above, there will always be static and irritations in relationships, and we all need occasions when we can just vent or complain. The Third-Time Rule is for concerns that involve the work of the school. It does not mean that C must simply turn A away. C can offer to meet with A and B together, or can suggest that A engage an administrator to help, and so on. The key is to keep the focus on improving the faculty’s working relationships.

Resolving Conflict
The prospect of actually abiding by the Third-Time Rule makes many teachers fearful. They can’t imagine what they would say to A if they were in C’s shoes. If they are to be more appropriately candid with one another, they usually benefit from learning concrete ways to improve communication, especially ways to resolve differences constructively. The relevant approaches are those taught in conflict-resolution seminars and are neither complex nor outside the range of teachers’ existing competence. They include:

1. Confront the issue, not one another. The goal is to resolve the difference and preserve the relationship. This means, among other things, assuming good will — not leaping to negative assumptions about a colleague’s views or motivation, not reading the effect of a remark or an action as its intent.

2. Listen carefully. Seek clarification and make sure to understand a colleague’s point of view (Can I ask you about that? Can you say more about what makes you think that?).

3. Share views honestly but respectfully — by, for example, making “I statements” (I find our meetings frustrating when we wander off topic, instead of, These meetings are a waste of time).

4. Speak as directly as possible, preceding it with something that makes it “hearable” (I don’t know quite how to say this, but I’m reluctant to speak because every time I suggest a solution you dismiss it, or, Can I disagree for a minute? I’m not sure you’re right. I think I see it differently).

5. In serious disagreements that persist, look for options, rather than full solutions (Is there part of the problem we agree on, even if we don’t see it all the same way?)."
robertevans  criticalfriends  collegiality  congeniality  2012  leadership  candor  honestry  constructivecriticism  via:carwaiseto  michaelhuberman  teaching  teachers  communication  honesty  feedback  avoidance  conflictavoidance  conflict  conversation 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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