I am currently reading the book, Culturize, by Jimmy Casas. In the book, Casas asks the question, “Where does average exist in your organization?” I immediately turned that into, “Where does average exist in our school?”
When I read that question, it stopped me for a moment. I put the book down and thought about it. However, that isn’t a “think for ten seconds and respond type of question.” So, I picked the book up and started reading again. A few hours later, I took to Twitter and posted that question as it was still on my mind and I wanted to hear other opinions. Then, I asked it to our staff in a feedback section of my weekly update. Their responses furthered my curiosity. Now, 6 days later, here I am, and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.
My thought process traveled two directions as I tackled this question. First, who wants to be average at anything? Is anyone signing up for the “Average Husband Club?” Do we gush with pride when our daughter tells us how average we’ve been as a father? School is no different. We do our best to share our positive stories and then work on the things we know that need to be improved. But in my 20 years in this profession, I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone say, “We are really average at that.” Should we be saying that? Would it help for the average in a school to be labeled and understood? Clearly, the thought of being average is not appealing to most schools or people in general.
The other thought was, can a school really be great at everything? Is that realistic? Is having things that are average, normal? Isn’t there always going to be some average everywhere? Even if you get 20 things going in the right direction and they all seem great, will they stay great? Will any regress to average? I think that accepting something may be average and naming it as average are NOT the same thing.
Back to the question, “Where does average exist in our school?” I feel compelled to do something further to investigate this question as it relates to our school, my work, and even our profession. I’m confident in the way our structure is set up to improve average, but more interested to hear what various stakeholder groups feel like average is. In this case, I’m more interested in naming it and that process, than fixing it.
1. I feel like there is great value in parents, teachers, and students being posed that question and listening to their responses. I am going to do that formally and informally. There is an honesty, transparency, and vulnerability in asking the question which I believe is an important message to convey. In addition, it’s not just about MY perspective. It’s about OUR perspective. I have already started my list, but it may look very different from someone else’s.
2. In the self-evaluation type of process, I’m hoping to come up with a list or patterns where different stakeholder groups believe our school to be average.
3. Share the list openly and honestly.
I haven’t been in any organization where average wasn’t alive, somewhere, somehow, and for some amount of time. Thank you Mr. Casas, for asking a question that I think holds great depth and power. It’s not one that had been posed to me before but is one that has really made me reflect, think, plan, and act. I wonder how other teachers would respond to the question or even the thought of the question, “Where does average exist in our school?”