Wisdom From Every Corner of the Room

Post was submitted by Jason Yaffe
@yaffejason
Greenhill School
Dallas, Texas

The title of this blog entry stems from a powerful comment made by a participant at a NAIS Annual Conference workshop. I am so grateful for her reminder and I have been reflecting on it ever since. It unfolded at a workshop entitled, “Strategy, Faculty Voice, and the Hard Work of Implementation: A Discussion for School Leaders.” And with her words, so many forces in schools seemed to coalesce for me. For the sake of time, brevity, and simplicity, let me capture it with a couple observations.

When schools truly value the wisdom from every corner of the room, they then…

  • Empower all (students, teachers, staff, administration, parents, and alumni) to identify and speak to school components that should stop, continue, and start (a process that the folks at Williston Northampton School recently undertook).
  • Redefine learning as best when it’s not top down. Administrators don’t have all of the answers, as my tablemates concluded during the Faculty Voice workshop and…Can schools improve from within and engage in in-house PD? (Credit to Roland Barth for pushing this in his pivotal Improving Schools From Within.)
  • Relentlessly pursue opportunities for inclusivity (Greenhill School (TX) is all about building cultural competency among all community members where voices are heard, understood, and appreciated). I’ve believed for a long time, and I am not the first, that schools that thrive are places where all feel known.
  • See all as teacher-leaders. If given the time, space, and place to thrive, teachers can lead. And when they lead as “farmers” (thanks to Grant Lichtman and his blog posting about that concept), cultivating the “soil,” giving “seeds” time to sprout, our “gardens” can be robust.

The fact that I am learning as much from workshop participants as I am from workshop presenters speaks to the endless possibilities that unfold when all voices are heard. Here’s to more connections at NAISAC.

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