Today I felt inspired to blog. I’ve taken a little break from blogging — and really “academic life” — this week, as I nurse the holiday cold that so many of our students had before the Winter Break. I decided to enjoy this first snowy, cold week of holidays with many great books, lots of coffee, and time with family and friends (at least once the coughing stopped 🙂 ). Then this morning, I started out my day as I always do, reading Doug Peterson‘s daily blog post. From his post, I saw Julie Balen‘s one on #onewordONT words, and I was reminded that I’ve finally decided on my “one word goal” for 2018.
Just like last year, I felt that it was reflecting on my last one word goal that led me to my next one. For the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time considering “perspective.” This word made it into many of my blog posts, and I think became a lot bigger than I initially intended. I think that “perspective” helped me better understand children’s actions, educator decisions, administrator choices, and even academic topics such as growth in reading. And it was my desire for a little perspective that led to a conversation, that a few weeks later, resulted in this blog post.
This conversation is a hard one to write about, as I want to respect the privacy of everyone involved. Let’s just say that one day, I had a discussion with a colleague that made me start to question our play-based Kindergarten program and our interpretation of the Program Document. While I love our approach and have seen the benefits for kids, I thought about the contrary message that I heard from another educator, and I wondered if I was missing something here. So I took some time to think, I spoke to this colleague again, and then I asked if I could contact the person that shared this message to find out more. She agreed. And I made a phone call. When I phoned, I was tempted to start by sharing my perspective, but instead, I told her what I heard, and I asked her some questions. These questions changed things. They allowed me to find out more, see things differently, and end the discussion feeling as though the gap between our approaches was actually not much of a gap at all.
Then I knew that the missing part to my “perspective goal” was questioning. Yes, I like to ask questions. Almost all of my blog posts are full of them. Kristi Keery Bishop, a principal in our Board, has taught me the value in asking and answering “hard questions.” And while Kristi (and others) have helped me get better at asking questions over the years, I think that I’ve somehow forgotten an important component of this questioning: to be truly open to the answers that come from them.
- I want to ask questions to inspire thinking.
- I want to ask questions to inspire discussion.
- I want to ask questions to find out more.
- I want to ask questions that lead to problem solving.
I want to be authentic in the questions that I ask both kids and adults, and open to learning more from the answers that I receive. It will come as no big surprise to many of my blog readers that I often have opinions — sometimes ones that are contrary to popular opinion — and am willing and eager to share what I think. Colleagues know this. Administrators know this. Parents know this. Family and friends know this. My online social network knows this as well. And while I’m not opposed to sharing my thinking, I can’t help but wonder how much speaking up has caused conversations to end instead of begin (or continue). So I wonder about the impact of some well-phrased questions: will they lead to deeper discussions and future changes?
Let 2018 be my year of questioning, wondering, and ultimately finding out more! What’s this year going to be for you?