The Collective Wisdom

23 May 2006

I had not one...not two...but three command performances today at the weekly gathering of admins.

The first was to deliver some news about elementary science. Before I spoke to them, I watched in both horror and awe as the admins went on and on about the district plans for writing. It was lovely to see a group so focused and single-minded about something---but terrifying that they didn't see it as the "wrong" thing. Have they seen their school and district data...and picked up on the fact that math and science are at the bottom and need attention? Have they heard about NCLB and AYP...and noticed that "writing" is not part of those?

These meetings are always running behind, which means that agenda items like me get squished. So, here was the one and only chance I've ever had to talk with elementary admins...and I ended up with 3 minutes to do it. I did my best and moved over to the other side of the partition, where the secondary admins awaited.

First up, an update on summer school information. Admins do love to get caught up in the details, so by the time we waded through that, I only -5 minutes (they were already 10 minutes past their scheduled ending time) to update them on all the wonderful things that we've done with junior high science this spring. And when they saw it, they loved it...and we had no time to talk about it.

There has to be a better way to manage communications in a district this size. We think we're small, but we aren't. We believe that buy-in and stakeholders and input gathering is crucial, but decisions never get made and courses remain clouded. We think that quality staff will wait around out of the goodness of their hearts for the district to listen to them and use their talents, but in the meantime, they find jobs elsewhere. I do have my doubts about the collective wisdom at times.

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