We are living through an unprecedented time of attack on public education. Issues range from an over focus on testing to loss of individual benefits and compensation to loss of local control. Educators are being scrutinized more closely than any other time in recent memory . They are constantly having to adjust to changes over which they have little or no control. As a result, it is essential that educators focus on those things that they have control over. One area of focus could be how people treat one another within the organization. Below is a typicalstructure of positions within most school districts. Imagine the impact it would have on teaching and learning if respect became the focus of each of these positions.
Imagine if School Board members asked: Am I focused on policy ? Am I staying out of day to day operations in buildings? Am I respecting the role of the Superintendent and central administration? Am I encouraging and supporting central administration to lead?
Imagine if Central Administration staff asked: Am I supporting and encouraging building administrators? Am I respecting their roles? Am I listening and working with them? Am I having dialogue with them about their needs? Am I validating their hard work and not comparing the challenges of my role to what they do?
Imagine if Building Administrators asked: Am I establishing a culture of openness and a willingness to work with staff, not above them? Am I respecting staff and validating the challenges of their work? Am I giving them an opportunity to lead and give input? Am I listening more and talking less? Am I encouraging collaboration?
Imagine if Staffs asked: Am I treating my students with respect? Am I passionate about my profession? Am I encouraging students to focus on their learning? Am I encouraging students to do their best? Am I respectful of my colleagues? Am I collaborating with colleagues on best practice?
Imagine if Students asked: Am I focusing more on my learning than social issues? Am I treating other students with respect? Am I refraining from gossip about others? Am I treating my teachers with respect?
We all know that respect needs to move from the top of this structure down, as well as from the bottom up. If each area focuses on respect, school communities have a better chance to improve and grow as positive places for learning.
Let’s get to work.