Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Shepherd leader meets needs

I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.

The issue of “needs” is so pertinent to society today.  Over the last ten years, we have seen the massive shift from “what I do for the company?” to “what can the company do for me?”.  I have to admit, I fall into the group who have some sense of entitlement, although I do strongly value hard work and earning what you get.  
Teaching is the only profession I have ever been in, so I can’t say that teachers are the worst complainers, but we definitely do our share of grumbling.  To be fair, we have a lot to accomplish, with increasing challenges and dwindling resources.  Even in one of the richest provinces, we still ache for more.  How easy it is to get caught up the negativity that can surround education.  
Last year at my school, there was a program delivered by an outside  agency that made my blood boil.  To me, the goals of the program were great, but the execution was very much lacking.  The delivery of this program ate into my instructional time, disrupted my class, required my intervention when the lesson didn’t go well and I had to give up my own time to attend professional development sessions.  It really got under my skin, and I don’t think I was the only one.  
Well, just then I was taking a course in program evaluation, looking at the steps and structures required to perform an evaluation of programming.  We were asked to design a realistic evaluation plan. Hallelujah!  I felt like I regained some power and perspective.  I based my plan around this program that I didn’t feel was working well in our school. I identified the issues my colleagues and I had been discussing. 
Even though I never actually conducted the program evaluation, just planning and imagining it allowed me to be more patient with the program staff because I had more clarity about the actual aims of the rpogram and the challenges they may have been facing.  It helped me provide more clear feedback to the program.  

The most meaningful component of this experience was feeling like I had better tools to deal with similar situations in the future.  I know now which questions to ask  and how to provide feedback that can be collected to make meaning for a program.  

Back to the shepherd leader who meets the needs of his flock.  I really think that teachers can feel that they can get lost in the education system, and that various different programs are thrown at them.  I have sometimes felt like a complainer.  My experience in ETAD allow me to constructively provide feedback.  I also feel confident to listen attentively to those around me, and really hear what their needs are in their education practice.   

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