Are We Educational Hoarders?
In this age of reality shows, many people’s lives become transparent to the world. One of those shows is "Hoarders." This is a show in which a person’s gathering and keeping "stuff" becomes such an obsession that their normal lives are highly impacted. As they work through the issue of sorting, organizing, and getting rid of all of their possessions, it becomes a traumatic time.
The same is true in our schools. We may not be physical hoarders, but we may be educational hoarders. Continuing to add to the requirements of each staff member without helping them through the process of focusing each activity while letting go of less effective strategies, drives us to be hoarders and not to be the most efficient for each student.
One of the powerful ideas of PLC is the idea of "what do we STOP doing" in favor of more focus on the learning and the results of that learning. When we help our staffs become an efficient system that focuses on the critical learning of each student, we enable them to look at all of the activities and strategies that are being implemented to evaluate their effectiveness. Taking the staff through the conversations about each activity, program, and tradition that directly meets the learning needs of each student can be time consuming at the onset, but will lead to a stronger staff that enhances the results for each student.
The conversation and commitments regarding what we continue doing, what we let go of and the rationale of each, helps the staff feel more empowered to impact, guide and own the school. These periodic conversations produce the results that are so important for our students. There also ceases to be a "they" did it to us conversation that moves to this is what "we" decided to do together to make a difference conversation. We keep the essential. We let go of the non-essential. We have time to focus deeply on the learning and the relationships that make a difference.
No matter when in the process each school has the conversation, it is critical to have the STOP doing conversation. Becoming a non-hoarder of educational ideas, strategies, and processes gives us the freedom to focus on what is critical, brings a deeper calm and is worth the trauma of the whole process. The positives of the STOP doing conversation outweigh the trauma. We must be strong, be focused, and be kind. But we must face the hindrances to student achievement. We must help our staff be an efficient system that is focused on the results of each and every child. We must be non-hoarders.