It’s Time for Voice and Choice
Sometimes and especially when in crisis, we have to let go, and give Voice & Choice to those we serve. As the pandemic response continues, with families at home and teachers supporting students (and their parents) through online learning, homeschooling ideas, and resources, we’ve heard from many, that teacher and student Voice & Choice have surfaced organically. And we hope that this continues when we go back to school.
An example of the power of community Voice & Choice, is found in the recent work of one of our ExploreSchools that has just confirmed a new more flexible timetable for 2020-21! The temporal driver is perhaps the most logistically challenging aspect of the NEXTschool model, yet also the key to allowing the other drivers to thrive.
How did this school arrive at a new timetable? By giving Voice & Choice to key stakeholders through:
Shared Visioning: Engaging teachers, students, and parents in the process of developing a shared future state is a key ingredient to transformation – even if that desired end state continues to iterate over time. Our ExploreSchools start by asking stakeholders what a school of highly engaged students looks like and how they might get there – making their thinking visible and shareable. While the NEXTschool model has several essential components, it has a lot of latitude and room for creativity, so that each school community designs a vision that is aligned with their unique context.
Dialogue: This is where Voice comes in. Making sure that all stakeholders are able to express their ideas, hopes and fears creates a culture of collaboration and a commitment to the process and the end result (in this case, a new timetable). An external facilitator can often help to pose thoughtful open-ended questions, listen to ideas objectively and without judgment and choose protocols that inspire deeper understanding. Creating space for intentional dialogue can enhance a team’s sense of purpose, validate varying perspectives and also deepen understanding for all. A culture of dialogue fosters attention to both the big picture and the details and can potentially lead to the integration of several ideas towards considering an ‘ideal prototype’ or several viable options.
Choice: In the case of developing a new timetable, it was through sufficient, dedicated dialogue among stakeholders that the ExploreSchool designed 3 new options for consideration, each with their own pros and cons. It is at this stage where the school leaders recognized the power of Choice. Instead of choosing one of the timetables themselves, the school leaders shared the three options with the teachers, allowed for further conversations and ultimately allowed them to choose through a vote. The subsequent approval at the governing board level was facilitated and now the entire community is engaged and committed to move forward.
We can’t wait to see the transformational results, not only because of the new, more flexible timetable but also because there was a shift in school culture in the process, toward a ‘Voice and Choice’ culture; one that will serve them well as they continue to develop other components of NEXTschool.
As we navigate all of the changes in education and in the world, we might think more about how allowing for Voice & Choice might help bring communities together and lead to enhanced engagement.
We’d love to hear your “Voice & Choice” stories – please share them at firstname.lastname@example.org://hosted.learnquebec.ca/nextschool/2020/04/01/its-time-for-voice-and-choice/NEXTschool#share your voiceSometimes and especially when in crisis, we have to let go, and give Voice & Choice to those we serve. As the pandemic response continues, with families at home and teachers supporting students (and their parents) through online learning, homeschooling ideas, and resources, we’ve heard from many, that teacher...lizfalco email@example.comAdministratorNEXTSchool