VASCD’s annual conference gave me much to think about. To get started I’ve been thinking a lot about one of the keynotes, listed as being by Kaleb Rashad, director of High Tech High in San Diego. Except it wasn’t just Kaleb. He spoke, but he was joined by two teachers and two students. It was a great way to wrap up the first day of the conference.
One of the things Kaleb said was that what leaders owe their faculty is “permission, protection, and policy reduction”. When I first heard it, the alliteration made it sort-of wash over me. It took a bit for me to really process. Once I did, it has stuck with me.
Permission – educators in your building or district need to know you are giving them permission to try, to stretch, and quite possibly to screw up. Notice I’m not saying they just need permission, but that they need to know you’re giving them permission. They need to be certain that if they do what they think is best for their students and it doesn’t go as planned they will still have your support.
Protection – educators you lead need your protection. They need you to back them up with those above you, with families, with coworkers. They need you to stand between them and policies from above that make it harder for them to do the best job for students. They need you to be a bubble around them, ensuring they can do their job as well as possible.
Policy Reduction – I get that policies are (typically) created with the best of intentions. People in education (at least most of them) are doing all they can to serve children well. For some that means making policies and I truly believe policies are made to ensure that students have the best opportunities and support they can have. However, eventually there are many, many policies. Sometimes those policies conflict. Often those policies make significant demands on educators’ time. The more leaders can do to reduce the redundancy or paperwork of policies the more teachers can focus on their individual students.
I’m not certain that ‘permission, protection, and policy reduction’ covers everything teachers need from their leaders, but it is definitely a list that will get you started.