Earlier this month, I welcomed all of you to the book club for Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms. Ellen and I are glad you're here.
Each Monday, Ellen or I will share a brief video introduction to a new chapter (or hack, as they are referred to in the Hack Learning series) along with an invitation to read it. The videos that we share will include our reflections about the writing process, our experiences meeting and coming to know the teachers featured in that section of the text, and a few thoughts about the ideas that you'll encounter there.
Each Wednesday, we will return with powerful reflective questions, invitations to connect with us here or in our social spaces, and tools that can help you apply the ideas that we share in our book, including a few that we haven't shared elsewhere before. If you have questions as you're reading along, don't hesitate to contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
Reflecting on Hack 2: Seeking Diverse Perspectives
I'm wondering how this quote from American author Henry David Thoreau resonates with you: "It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see."
Ellen and I chose these words to begin this chapter of Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms with clear intention. So often, our understanding of people and situations is clouded by our own biases. Our abilities to see one another well are undermined by our privilege and our pain as well.
Who are the most important people that you're looking at right now, in an effort to understand them? Which situations are you striving to make sense of?
What are you seeing?
Most importantly: Why are you seeing these people and these situations the way you are seeing them?
Often, framing honest answers to these questions demands a level of courage and vulnerability that we aren't very comfortable assuming.
What do we need to do--collectively--in order to inspire this kind of brave?
Sometimes, we don't need to do anything more than simply listen, but I know from experience that this can be an incredibly challenging endeavor.
Here's the thing about being a parent, a teacher, and an administrator: We live under the constant pressure to "know" things. We're expected to be experts and problem solvers--even prophets, at times.
This is unrealistic. It also inspires us to sort rather than truly see our students.
I'm wondering where you feel pressured to know and fix and practically walk on water? And what would have to change, in order to ease you of this burden?
It's worth it to try, if not for your own well being, for that of the children you care for. When we spend too much time in charge of anything--whether it's a school or a classroom or a home--we begin to suffer from the curse of expertise. Seeking diverse perspectives helps us overcome this, but striving to prevent it altogether is far more rewarding.
Does this seem overwhelming? Start my taking one small step. This might be as easy as defining a problem that you're trying to solve and asking yourself who is impacted most by the consequences. How might you get their perspectives on the table as you problem solve? Whose stories aren't sitting on the surface? How might you access them? What can you do to listen better once you do?
You can also begin by coaching your students to embrace and appreciate the diversity inside of your own classrooms. Human Affinity Mapping typically accomplishes this well. You'll see our protocol below, but know that it's been adapted in many different ways, for many different kinds of groups. How might you do the same?
You'll find a wealth of other resources and activities for seeking diverse perspectives in Hack 2 of our book. And if you subscribe to our blog, we've designed a brand new approach for teams to use as well. This tool will be included in our upcoming Sunday Shout Out and added to the freebie folder we maintain just for our subscribers. You'll also find a full set of printable book club questions for Hack 2 in that folder on Sunday as well.
Enjoy your reading and these additional resources, friends. And don't hesitate to reach out to Ellen and I in the Compassionate Classrooms Facebook group as you're reading. We'd love to talk with you.