No Need for Perfect
January 20, 2020
No need for perfect, just a little bit better. Oprah January 2020
Thursday in my notebook (#100DaysofNotebooking) I outlined the benefits of child study. It isn’t coincidence that I decided that child study was a real benefit to our school community that day in particular. That morning, the pieces of child study came together again. There it was, the sweet spot.
I’m a firm believer in the child study process. A group of educators get together and discuss a difficulty and work together to suggest solutions. We use a strict(ish) protocol. The classroom based teacher presents the difficulty, the team asked clarifying questions, the classroom based teacher listens as we generate possible solutions, the classroom based teacher shares what ideas he/she might try, we set goals and a check-in date for six weeks later. The entire process takes about forty minutes.
We have these meetings two mornings a week. The team consists of the school counselor, the assistant principal/EL coordinator, the literacy specialist, the principal, and others rotate in. Sometimes we have another classroom teacher, sometimes the psychologist, a special education coordinator or teacher, and others. The protocol works well, the participants balance each other out, and its helpful to the teacher…until it isn’t.
While the process is still right and generally we’ve been helpful, over the last few months, it’s been… uneven. Why? Connections. The principal and the school counselor are in their first year. They come to the table with their experiences, their knowledge, their hopes. What they didn’t have was a shared history. What we didn’t have was a shared history.
To be honest, a shared history can be a burden. Fresh ideas are good and often very, very helpful. In that room, in that situation, with those time constraints, attention is key, discussion has to be tight, almost each word matters. It is painfully easy to get off track. When we get off track, we cannot, we do not generate a round of positive, easily implemented, fresh ideas to try. Everyone leaves frustrated.
We’ve sat here for the past four months, never having a post-mortem on the meeting. Never discussing our protocol together. Just hammering it out. Most of the time, it worked ok. Rarely was it amazing. I remember amazing… I missed that.
On Thursday, a teacher came to the room. She presented her student to us. We understood her concerns. We asked questions that gave us all clarity. She carefully articulated what she thought might be a next step.
I felt the shared exhale in the room as we thought for what seemed like minutes, but was only seconds. The talk started between us. No tripping over each others words. No confusion shown on faces. Gentle easy purposeful productive talk. Like the tumblers on a lock, I felt the team fall into place. Just then in the moment, we were a team. We felt the connection. We hit the sweet spot.
We are going to be a team moving forward. We will smile. We will wait. We will laugh. We will reach out. We made the connection. We felt the pieces fall into place and we will be working for that every time we enter the room. Once you feel it, it comes more naturally. That’s what they say about everything that takes practice. It wasn’t quite 10,000 hours, but it was 50… give or take.