Innovation and Conversations

I have spent the past couple of years in a leadership position, as our Special Education Coordinator and Technology Lead. However, this year is going to look a little different as I am walking into an administrative role as our Principal goes on maternity leave. Exciting, yes. Scary, definitely as it’s a different perspective as a leader. Makes you realize that there are definitely areas of your practice as a leader that need some slight and then serious tweaking/refining.

Over the past couple of years, I have done everything that I thought was creating a community and culture that promoted innovation and encouraged teachers to not be afraid of the new. However, in the past year, our culture of innovation became stagnated and it was becoming extremely difficult to keep the motion going. I also realized that I am absolutely horrible at having those difficult conversations because I tend to back off when it feels like it might brew a conflict. Because who really wants to create conflict?! Definitely not me.

Feeling defeated and a little worn down from the past year, I was unsure of how to move forward and questioning how I would navigate these situations being in an elevated role.

Sitting in and listening to both the sessions on Creating a Culture of Innovation and Courageous Conversations kind of created this moment where I was able to realize that maybe I was asking the wrong questions to create that culture and could refine my practice of difficult conversations and that maybe just maybe, things weren’t crashing and burning like I thought. Smouldering somewhat, maybe.

Some questions were curated to help foster that culture using a question grid that could help ensure that not all the questions are analytical. We don’t all sit in that analytical space all the time. So no need for questions sit there too.

  • Is now a good time to chat about the lesson? ( crucial as sometimes it has just been a day! And we all have those days!)
  • Can you tell me what happened before I came in?
  • Can you tell me what is going to happen after I leave?
  • How did you feel about that lesson?
  • How are you building on this?
  • What did you want the students to learn? (Can’t be a one off question)
  • Do you think they met their goals? (Can’t be a one off question)

These aren’t the only questions that can be asked, using the grid opens up the possibilities. Using the 5 Ws and then is, did, can, should, would, will/might.

Using these questions, are the easiest way to tweak to someone’s practice. The whole purpose of using the questioning is to help fill the bucket instead of empty it. I know already my strength is providing resources, resources, resources as educators that is an already built muscle.

However, I know as many educators probably also do, is not celebrate the milestones and recognize that we as humans exist with a life outside of the building. We are just so used to being in the thick of it just plugging along that we don’t remember to make those connections and recognize even the littlest “WooHoos!”

Which after we foster that culture, the tough conversations are still going to occur. Definitely where I am like that onion Shrek describes, things are a bit more vulnerable and therefore a little scarier. However, looking at the GROW framework, it makes it easier. Especially when you can ground things in reality and move into obstacles and opportunities it allows assumptions and emotions to be left out. Things don’t have the opportunity to escalate or people to be left jumpy. Then ending with the will/way forward allowing a next step to be built so both parties are able to feel like a resolution occurred and no one walks away feeling left in the dark.


G- goal

R- reality

O- obstacles/opportunties

W- will/way forward

At the end of it all sometimes it all comes down to the questions or the way/order they are put in.

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