I have changed jobs once again. I am now split between two jobs: assistant principal and ed tech coordinator. At our first administrator professional learning community meeting (PLC) we were given a scenario that forced us to DIG DEEP. This scenario had to do with the Washington Monument. Interestingly I had visited the Washington Monument a year ago when I attended #WDC17 (Google for Education Innovator). The picture above shows me with other Google Innovators as we toured the monuments at night. The bright white behind us is the lit up Washington Monument.
Now for an interesting story connecting empathy and the Washington Monument.
In our PLC we were asked to go deeper into data but first we were given an analogy:
The last time the Washington Monument was being restored the folks in charge noticed that the mortar between the bricks was failing. The cause was the cleaner they use to clean and keep the monument white. So the first solution was to find a gentler cleaner, but instead someone else decided to look deeper. That person asked the question: what is causing the dirt on the monument? After exploring it was found that bats were pooping all over the monument. So the next question that was asked was why are the bats around? They found out that there are spiders that the bats love to each all over the monument. The next question was why are the spiders there? Apparently there are gnats all over the building which the spiders love to eat. With that discovery the people in charge realized that the core problem was that the type of lights they use to light the monument at night was attracting the gnats. So instead of searching for a new cleaning substance, they changed the lighting which addressed the chain of problems.
At our Innovator Academy Jennie Magiera shared a story of empathy and slaying dragons. It is a story that helped our cohort think about digging deeper and finding empathy for those educators who might be resistant to change. It's as simple as asking questions and taking time to gain understanding of the person and/or the situation.
I have been diving into the Design Thinking process and attended Design Camp in Monterey CA last February. The focus that day was on the empathy portion of the process which I had not given much deep thought about. To me the empathy piece was just one of the parts of the design thinking process. I believed it was an important part, however, after the Innovator Academy and the design camp something clicked and I now understood that it was the key piece in the process.
As a new administrator my first priority is to build relationships with the admin team, the teachers and staff, students, parents and community of the school. To do that I must ask questions and dig deeper to understand the situation. It is my goal to better understand and build empathy for the person/people and/or the situation.
My goals for this year to build empathy to help shift culture:
- Seek to understand instead of "fix" the situation
- Ask questions
- Listen to hear and understand, not to respond
I'm looking forward to focusing on empathy with intent this year.