1. What a great breakdown for decision making in schools. it does seem that within schools, we can lose touch with the basic principle – is this best for the learner? In wanting to do right by the students, I do believe that students are not always considered, particularly as individuals. Maybe this flowchart can help some educators find their way back to this most simple concept. With all of the noise, perhaps this will help turn down the volume a bit and allow some conversation.

  2. This totally reminds me of Pam Moran’s (Superintendent at Ablemarle Schools in Virginia) “developing a culture of yes.” But I love the flow chart. It’s so simple and so learner focused. I’d add that we’d want to include students in this process so that we are designing “with” them, not just “for” them.

    Thanks for the conversation starter. And for the statement that, “Somebody, somewhere, is doing the same thing you say you can’t do.”

    • George

      I appreciate everything Pam does to serve her students. I LOVE the importance of including student voice. Thanks for the feedback!

    • George

      Focusing on helping students is leading to teacher burnout? I am disappointed you believe that,

      I would agree that could happen if teachers are not supported by admin, but this image is meant to spark conversations on how we serve students together. No one person in a school should be the sole support to serve students.

      • Chris

        As a teacher what is best for a learner could be something that is out of my control such as hunger or drug addiction etc. Furthermore, what could be best for one learner, is something could have a negative impact on other students.

        The bar for teachers should be set high, but let’s not get carried away. There are not enough support systems in most schools, and districts, to do what is the best for each learner all the time. There is a reason why teachers are leaving the profession in most countries in droves and this rhetoric helps accelerate it.

        • George

          Totally agree that teaching is complicated and teachers need support. As you see, I address this here:

          “This is not to say that the conversations won’t get complicated. Having conversations ultimately on what is “best for the learner” will definitely have differing opinions. I guess the point of the initial prompt is that we are having the conversation in the first place. Are our solutions focused on what is best for the learner, or most comfortable for the adult?”

          You are right, there are many things that are out of control of educators, and so many go above and beyond to serve kids daily. That being said, I really think that it is important part is that we are having conversations in serving our students in the first place not just dismissing ideas.

          • Chris

            Making the teacher in the room comfortable is a position you have to look at it. If districts want to retain teachers, teachers have to like their job, and equally as important cannot have a high workload or additional stress. Teachers are there to teach. I agree with what you said, the support systems need to be there to support the teachers do that. However, the reality is the systems aren’t there in a lot of districts. Districts are short of psychologists, Librarians, Counsellor etc. This load should never be placed on a teacher.

            We do need to do what is best for students. However, I don’t think it is feasible for teachers to cater to each individual student’s needs. Additionally, when we look at cognitive science, we see that people learn in very similar ways. It is a lot easier to teach the whole class than it is to individualize education.

  3. George

    And that is one of my points from the image in the first place. I am hoping you don’t take this as simply an image for teachers. It should be for all levels. If a teacher believes that there are things they need in the classroom that could best support students, but the administrator is not supporting that, it goes against the graphic as well. Do you know what I mean? There is NO WAY that teachers should be the lone support for students and responsible solely for a student being successful or not. If you have ever attended any of my sessions, I outright say that I am harder on admin than I am the teachers in the room because if they are not supporting the teachers and growing themselves, the teachers are not able to do what they need to do in service of students.

    It is impossible to personalize everything, but as I know you have shared, building relationships is important, and it can help us find times to personalize for our students in ways that are meaningful to them. No conversation in education should be all or nothing but we should never stop asking if there are things that we can do to better serve students and the educators that support them.

    • Chris

      I’ll take responsibility for assuming it was primarily focused on teachers. However, teachers are the most numerous in the field of education, and have the biggest impact on students achievement. Also, being a teacher myself skews my view.

      Admin also has their hands tied. I wanted to take my students on a day long field trip, but no funding to do so. Admin supported it but had no funding.

      I agree with most of what you say with this article. However, the point I wanted to make and made, is it is not always possible for people within the education community to do what is best for each learner. I understood that you probably realized that, but it is important to state, that more often than not, funding and other issues can be real obstacles.

      • George

        Totally agree Chris…Appreciate your viewpoint! I do as much as possible to do my best to serve education as I know you do as well. Thanks for your input and thoughts!

        • Andy

          George, thank you for reminding all of us that while we may not be able to tailor everything to the individual, we must not stop examining the logistical limitations to our creative ideas. Your flow chart encourages us to go one more step before throwing the “baby out with the bath water”. Committees, PLCs, building support teams, and all other education collaborative groups often get stuck on logistics instead of ideas. All people in education entered the profession with the goal of helping that one special kid and to make a difference. Reality, limitations, and funding has trained us to stop asking “why not?”. We often confuse more work with different/replacement work. More often than not, change and new ideas lead to more efficiency and higher feelings of accomplishment. Burnout happens when we feel our work is not helping us progress and the payoff is not worth the price. I see your flow chart including that very question. By identifying the barriers, finding working solutions, and implementing the change you are reducing burnout and can be a positive change agent. This was the first post of yours I read and I look forward to reading more.

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