“They” – the most dangerous word in education?

As I sat with a school’s leadership team recently, their plan to calibrate staff members’ mindsets and align team expectations called for a monthly staff “huddle,” a departure from their “no staff meetings” practice. The principal sat back and sighed. “It seems like a good idea. But it’ll never fly. They hate staff meetings.”

And there it was. The ubiquitous rationale for inaction: perceived unanimity cloaked in the language of “they.”

leaderWe do this all the time: attribute the behaviors, conflicts, or inabilities of a few – or sometimes, just one noisy one – to the masses. We lump everyone together. And who likes to be lumped together?

When we take the time to analyze the reality, we’ll find that some (perhaps “many” or even “most”) meet the criterion we’ve laid out, but not everyone.

The leadership team mentioned above bravely challenged their leader’s thinking in this regard. Who, specifically, hates staff meetings? What evidence do you have of that claim? Are there individuals – or pockets, or the quiet masses – that actually yearn to spend time together growing as professionals in such a setting?

By digging beneath the gross generalizations, we can capitalize on the individuals, addressing the naysayers directly, influencing their thinking, providing additional information, and limiting the worrisome revolt.

They’ll appreciate it.

 

Pete Hall is an educational consultant, former award-winning principal, speaker, and author of six books (including Lead On! Motivational lessons for school leaders (Eye on Education, 2011) and Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building your capacity for success in the classroom (ASCD, 2015). He shares his perspectives in 212-word entries every month or so. He can be reached for speaking engagements, professional development, or other queries at petehall@educationhall.com.

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