The answer

The more I work with administrators and teachers, the more I’m convinced that, for the most part, the answers we seek lie within us.

I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of fabulous educators in recent months. We’ve been talking about facilitating deeper learning, fostering better technology infusion, and increasing student agency and ownership of the learning process.

While I’ve been sharing resources and trying to spark some ‘urgency’ to move forward faster, much of the time I’ve been asking questions. Questions like:

  • How can we get more problem-based learning into our classrooms?
  • What are some ways that we can make students’ learning experiences more global?
  • In two minutes, can you come up with five ways that you could increase student voice online?
  • How could you put your students to work to make something that benefited others?

Invariably, the educator pairs or small groups come up with a wealth of possibilities. In many cases, the ideas come pouring out as if from a firehose, as if they were bottled up just waiting for someone to ask the questions so that they could be released.

As leaders, we have to continually remember that there’s an incredible wealth of untapped talent, expertise, experience, and wisdom in our faculty. In our search for solutions, we need to turn less to outside experts – at least at first – and instead uncover what lies dormant within. If we ask the right questions – questions that are tightly focused and solution-oriented – most of the time we will generate numerous options that can be thrown out for more discussion and explored in more depth.

What are the specific, progress-oriented questions that we could be asking our faculty but haven’t? What untapped possibilities are lying dormant within our school organizations? As principals and superintendents, how can we better utilize targeted questioning to open up new lines of innovation? Once we generate some exciting new conversations, then the challenge is for us to facilitate and support those ideas so that they translate into sustainable changes in practice. That’s difficult work, of course, but it’s also energizing, movement-oriented work. And buy-in is inherently better because it came from the group, not from us or an outsider.

Ask your faculty some new questions. They’ll probably amaze you.

[Of course everything I said here also could (should) be done with students. It no longer should be an epiphany for educators that we should be doing less to students and doing more with them.]

Image credit: 007 The Answer 12|12