Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Role and Goal Confusion

One thing I have noticed in schools is something referred to as "Role and Goal Confusion."  The more I talk with school staff, the more I see it as a cause of tension and even disrespect.  Consider this thought experiment (or try it for real):  Have teachers write a job description for themselves, including their goals as professionals.  Have administrators write a job description for themselves, including their professional goals.  Now have the teachers write a job description for and the goals of administrators.  And have the administrators write the job description for and goals of a teacher.  Finally, compare notes.

One thing I see frequently is that the lists do not match.  Sometimes the differences are dramatic.  "No wonder I don't think you are doing your job!" What do we do when a cause of tension or disrespect is my thinking you are not doing what I think your job is? Or when you think I am not doing what you think my job is?

This confusion is not limited to those in different positions (e.g., teachers and administrators, support staff and teachers, etc.).  It can creep in among teachers themselves. Sometimes it breaks down along department lines (in high schools) or grade level lines (in middle schools still struggling between junior high and middle school philosophies) or even along "old school" "new school" lines.  We can converse with trusted colleagues in the parking lot about how other people are not doing their job. Or we can clear up the confusion face to face, colleague to colleague, and learn how we are each doing our job as we understand it to the best of our ability.

No comments: