Monday, August 29, 2011

Examine your Assumptions

I recently watched Sir Ken Robinson's 2010 TED talk in which he encourages educators to "disenthrall" themselves from what they take for granted.  This clip begins with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln:

I was reminded of this clip earlier today.  In the process of giving some well-deserved kudos to Todd Whittaker and John Bernia, I commented that I had come to Twitter with quite a jaded opinion of administrators.  John asked me why.  This is one of the reasons I feel blessed to have John as a member of my PLN.  He challenges me to think and question.  Shortly after tweeting a brief response to John  about having been evaluated for four years by an administrator who has never set foot in my classroom (more on that...) I had the luxury of a twenty minute drive.  (If I could find a safe way to blog and drive, my life would be so much easier! -- My best thinking happens in the car.)  As I drove, I pondered John's question.  A lot of bitterness was taking hold.  I revisited my early Twitter days, and I am ashamed to admit to the number of times I rolled my eyes and said to myself "administrator" when I would see a tweet posted by a man in a tie.  Talk about assumptions!

I don't want in any way to imply that I have only worked with "bad" administrators -- on the contrary.  I actually tend to understand (often more than many of my colleagues, ironically) that when building principals put pressure on teachers to raise test scores, they are responding to pressure from superintendents, who are responding to pressure from the state, and so forth.  I have worked with several administrators for whom I have immense respect, despite the fact that I may not always agree with them. Still, somewhere along the way I allowed myself to slip into an "us" "them" mentality, even though consciously I know how counterproductive that is.  So thank you again to John and Todd, Patrick Larkin, Bill Burkhead and other administrators in my PLN for sharing their passion for continuing to learn and grow, but mostly for continuing to challenge and question their tweeps.

Going forward, I will be teaching 4/5 of my day at the middle school with three administrators I have not worked with in that capacity.  I am entering this new school year with optimism, and hopeful to develop positive professional relationships.

So given all of this, I need to remember the title of my own blog, and identify my realm of control.  To the end of breaking out of the "us" "them" mindset, here are my goals:

1.  invite the two assistant principals at the middle school to join Twitter

2.  join the communication committee at the middle school

3.  actively invite administrators into my classroom

Here is my challenge to you:

Challenge your assumptions.  Disenthrall yourself from what you take for granted.  Go for a drive and think about how you would finish one (or all) of these sentences:

administrators are                                                                

students are                                                                         

parents are                                                                          


  1. Tracy,

    I'm beyond honored by my inclusion not only in your blog post, but as a member of your Professional Learning Network. I assure you, and the readers of your blog that the learning is beyond reciprocated, I appreciate the perspective you offer.

    I don't think you are unique in having some assumptions, I am finding myself reflecting on my own because of your post.

    Nicely done,

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  3. Glad to hear I sparked some reflection. I'll be posting a continuation to this in part due to last night's #edchat on teacher evaluation -- your input would have been a welcome contribution. Thank you for all that you do for educators.