I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being an author of clarity. In educational environments, when the pace is frenzied, the stakes high, and the systems and structures complex it is so easy for messages to be muddled and cloudy. Add to that the fact that people don’t always hear what you say (speaking science) and it is a recipe for befuddlement.
Making sure that we build clarity around vision in the broader context of a school or district and in the smaller learning communities within is so important. In many institutions there seems to be a clarity about vision in administration meetings, but that clarity rarely makes it down to classroom teachers, parents, or students.
If we aren’t clear on where we want our school, our students, and our faculty to go we run the risk of becoming disjointed, our message is blurred, and any path we take is bumpy.
It’s also all about the way we communicate. Over the years I have discovered it takes multiple methods of communication to make an idea stick and mitigate confusion. Every person, every teacher, every constituent group “hears” us differently. That means the discussion in a faculty meeting isn’t enough. We have to follow up in writing, maybe more than once. It means we might need a few one-on-one conversations, we might need examples, or model classrooms, or screencasts. It is a lot of time and work for an educational leader to build clarity but it vitally important.
The image that keeps coming to mind here is from Gremlins. Every time we obscure our vision, every time we aren’t clear, every time we don’t reiterate, every time we change a stance, it’s like throwing water on Gremlins. In the end there are consequences, offshoots of that confusion, little Gremlin visions that take hold and impact our growth and our school culture. They are not as cute and cuddly as our original Gremlin, our vision seemed in our minds.
Ideally, every decision we make about professional development, student learning, and teacher growth should be made with the vision in mind, a shared vision built around true understanding.
So, what are we doing to keep from authoring confusion? Are we building opportunities to author clarity together ? How are we keeping the Gremlins out of our culture?