Teach & Serve
No. 12 * October 20, 2015
Related Content from And There Came A Day:
- Teach & Serve No. 11 – “Everyone Knows This Is a Bad Idea”
- Teach & Serve No. 10 – “Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable”
- Teach & Serve No. 9 – “Gratitude – Saying “Thank You”
- Teach & Serve No. 8 – “Have I Properly Confused You?”
I think we misuse the word communication and we expect far too little of those people we call good communicators…
We want our schools to be better, we look to hiring and retaining better personnel. How do we know they’re better? We measure them. By what standard do we measure? That’s where things can get a little subjective and, in the education trade, we’re called to be data driven. We no likey subjectivity.
Therefore, effective teachers have been studied and analyzed and poked and prodded. They have been interviewed and observed and codified and decoded. Many considered “effective” have become trainers of other teachers, mentors who share their knowledge, paragons (in the least pejorative sense of that word) for the profession. Effective administrators have, likewise, been placed under microscopes. They have been asked what makes them tick. They have been subjects of scrutiny in hopes that whatever it is they have and what it is they do can be bottled and produced, promoted and distributed.
I get it. I completely grasp the impulse. We can build teachers and administrators. We have the technology.
But, really, we don’t. If we had the technology, in this case the teacher/administrator education programs to adequately and consistently produce excellent people for the field, we’d be using it. It would be omnipresent in the educational world. We don’t have it. What we have is exemplars among us and we should look to them. Carefully. We should emulate them. Closely.
In my decades in education, I’ve found some similarities among the high performing, high achieving personnel in schools. In fact, I’ve noted one similarity among them in particular.
That’s not a misspelling. I know the noun here is typically “communication.” The generally accepted understanding of communication is not all I am referencing when speaking of quality people in schools. Sure, they communicate well. Many people communicate well.
Exemplars among us co-municate. They practice co-munication.
See, they understand that speaking with someone, teaching someone, conveying educational instruction or cognitive coaching to someone is a two-way street.
All too often, we view communication as an information dump and we are so sadly wired from past experience that we accept a quality dumping of information as a good thing.
“Wow,” we say, “his email really explained things. It’s all much clearer now.” Or we say, “I’m sorry she ran out of time for questions, but I really understand the policy now.” Or we say “that was a great lecture – I sure hope the students were taking good notes and really listening.”
We are programmed to accept any communication that is timely, relatively clear and respectful as good communication.
Nope. Sorry. I want our standards set a bit higher. I want us to consider co-munication.
“Co” implies more than one part. It suggests process and working together. It demands interaction. The “co” is the most important part of the word “communicate.” The “co” makes the word, defines the term, underscores the concept.
The best educational professionals with whom I have ever worked, when I was in the classroom and now when I am out of it, were amazing “co-municators.” They didn’t just tell me things, they brought me into their thought processes and conversations. They didn’t just announce things, they provided structure and rationale for why they were announcing what they were announcing. They didn’t just tell their students what they should know and, in fact, they didn’t just tell them why they should know it, they engaged them in a process of discovering, together, the power of whatever lesson was at hand.
The best professionals I know know how to co-municate.
Co-munication is a way of life for them.
If we want our schools to continue to be better, we have to find more co-municators.