This tweet caught my eye today:

It caught my eye because I have been musing on this observation made by Jan, a high school Principal on Twitter last week:

We work within a system. Of course there are systemic priorities. That is the reality of any workplace IMHO.

I wanted to flag this because I think both of these tweets are right, but this is a problematic standpoint as ‘working within a system’ and ‘being insubordinate’ are tricky agendas to keep in balance.

There has been much promotion recently amongst NSW DET leaders of adopting a ‘Tight-Loose-Tight’ model of working in schools.  It’s a model I support, and I think it provides a really terrific framework for teachers and school leaders (and system bureaucrats) to work on common ground without constantly arguing about, say, NAPLAN.  By accepting policy and product requirements we can get on with developing the ‘Loose’ area – the bit where we actually teach in the classroom using different and divergent strategies that are relevant and engaging and meet the needs of our personal teaching style, our individual students and our local school context.

However, recently I have definitely felt that critical comments made by teachers about ‘the system’ are being taken personally by leaders who are higher up the chain and see this as either a personal attack or an undermining of their innovative work in planning their school.  A few weeks ago I wondered if the answer is that we need a more realistic paradigm for collaborating with the people who ultimately are our ‘boss’.  But to tell you the truth, I find that idea quite dispiriting. I hate having to mind my p’s and q’s…it’s why I decided NOT to go into politics!

I don’t have much to say about this today, but perhaps you do?

How can we show our leaders the love (and our commitment to common goals) while maintaining a healthy level of insubordination?

NB: I’m talking very NSWDET here, but I’ve found a similar conundrum working with people on development of the National Curriculum…it’s tough to authentically engage in developing something so prescribed-from-above when your gut reaction is to kick against the pricks. Conversely, it’s tough to promote engagement with the resulting best-case-scenario product to people that I in turn lead when they want to fight against it too!

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  1. #1 by TroyMartin on August 15, 2010 - 9:17 pm

    I’ve been wanting to post a reply for a while. I am, at times, guilty of insubordination. Aren’t we all?

    • #2 by kmcg2375 on August 16, 2010 - 3:07 pm

      Thanks Troy…I know I am. On the plus side, I am up front about it, and like to think I’m open to changing my perspective. If the reason is right 😉

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