School resources are always limited, whether they be time, money, attention, energy, or personnel. Before you hire an outside helper for your school(s), here are some questions you might ask…
- Are we bringing in this person to actually help us do something?
- Or do we just want to dabble and/or pretend that we care about the topic?
- Or are we just doing it because others are / it’s a hot topic right now?
- How does this work fit in with our other current initiatives?
- How will we help our employees, students, and families understand the connections with our other work?
- How much of a priority is this work compared to our other initiatives?
- What will we do beforehand to optimize our employees’ chances of being successful with this?
- What’s our follow-up plan afterward?
- What additional support structures, leadership behaviors, professional learning, expectations, timelines, deadlines, financial and time resources, personnel, monitoring mechanisms, etc. will be put into place to support this work?
- Will this work be supported at the very highest levels of the school organization? How?
- Are these new supports adequate for the work to be successful?
- Do we have a fighting chance to actually do this right now?
- Or are we just fooling ourselves?
- Do we have both the will and capacity to actually make this happen?
- What are we currently doing that conflicts with or will obstruct our success with this new work?
- What concerns will our employees, students, and families raise about this work?
- What is our plan for addressing those?
Some questions to ask the outside helper (before you hire them) include…
- Can you actually help us do something? (i.e., can you help us with the WHAT and the HOW, not just the WHY?)
- Or are you just going to tell us we should do something and then leave?
- What should we do beforehand to optimize our employees’ chances of being successful with this?
- How much time do we need with you to get started successfully on this?
- What will that work look like (and why)?
- How much time do we need after you work with us to get started successfully on this?
- What does that work look like (and why)?
- What barriers, challenges, and other concerns should we expect as we head into this work?
- How can you help us with those?
- What kinds of follow-up resources and supports can you provide us?
- What do those look like (and why)?
These are just a few to get started… What else would you add here?
If I had to rank YOUR questions, this would be my number one: “What’s our follow-up plan afterward?”
Agreed. We’ve known that educators need ongoing, effective follow-up for successful and sustainable implementation for … *checks notes* … decades now? Ugh.