The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Respect the Process!

There are hundreds of great ideas that could improve a school organization, thought of by dedicated professionals every day. Then, there is the actual implementation of those great ideas. Between the thinking and implementation is what I like to call “the process.” So often, educators say “why can’t we get anything done” or “why didn’t that work.” In almost every case, the answer is that while the ideas were great, the process was ignored. We must respect the process!

The truth is that the collaborative nature of our profession does not lend itself to top down mandates. In addition, while educators have opened doors and shared more with the arrival of PLCs, teaching remains a private practice. Commitment to implementing a strategy or idea is still ultimately the decision of each teacher, making engaging them in a process and building consensus even more important.

Some readers may be thinking “but building consensus and engaging everyone will just exacerbate how long things take” or “too many ideas keep us away from getting things done.” I’d respond that we need better balance between what will be agreed to be uniform at a building or district level and what can be left to the professional judgment of teachers.

As an administrator, I see my role in helping to develop processes as vital to what I can do to help our school. Currently, I am working with some teachers on how to build assessments as the Common Core standards roll out. All teachers agree that we need some basic, uniform measurement that we can look at to find common data points to evaluate classroom instruction. By no means should this replace teacher’s freedom to assign tasks or make observations that are unique to their students. We need a process that will get us to some commonality; however, that does not mean uniformity. Our process must engage classroom teachers to first identify the outcomes we want, then building questions to get data. We then develop a scale, ask the questions we developed, and analyze the data to help it re-think our classroom practice and our questions. This cycle continues as new units and new standards are rolled out. By respecting the process, everyone is heard and we create something that will “last” as our landscape changes.

Whether it is planning for professional development, instruction, assessment, setting up a school committee or making an important organizational decision, respecting the process will always get us closer to solutions rather than mandating change. There are 60 miles of road between the great idea someone comes up with and its implementation. Respecting the process allows everyone to travel that road and sets us up for success.

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6 thoughts on “Respect the Process!

  1. Like the new look for the Principal’s Principles!

    Thank you for shedding light on how critical implementation roll-outs are for the ultimate success of a given initiative or idea. Including teachers from the earliest stages (as you have done with PD at your school!) ensures that classroom-level implementation is cognizant of the realities facing teachers.

    As for your Common Core assessment designs, we hosted a team of NBCTs from all over the country last week that were considering these same questions. There are some helpful formative assessment resources that the Math and Literacy Design Collaboratives have developed that might be helpful:

    https://knowledgebase.newvisions.org/CustomTeamsIndividual.aspx?id=409
    http://map.mathshell.org/materials/

  2. My name is Tessla Huffman and I am working towards my elementary education degree at South Alabama. I want to thank you for pointing out that all teachers need to agree on methods that will be affective although that doesnt necessarily mean uniformity. I am at the beggining of my EDM 310 class and I will be commenting on your blog post every two weeks and then summarizing them in my blog. My blog url is

    http://huffmantesslaedm310.blogspot.com/

    http://edm310.blogspot.com/ < this is the class blog.

  3. joy eady on said:

    Hey Mr. Bernia

    Im Joy Eady and I have already commented on one of your blog post and now will comment on this one and publish it to my blogger today:) I would like to thank you for allowing me to comment on your posts. I really appreciate you pointing out that all the teachers need to come to one agreement on the teaching methods that should be the most effective to use through out the year. They might not have much uniformity,but they will be effective in the learning process. Thank You 🙂

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks for your comments, I am so glad that you found value in some of the work that I have published. I hope you and your peers have a very successful semester!

      John

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