The same professional development for your whole staff? Can PD really take a one-size-fits-all approach? If we believe that collaboration increases our opportunities for success, what organization would not benefit by everyone in every position having the increased capacity to make better decisions and work through complex situations? Even if the decisions or problems are widely different, learning some critical steps and key questions can help anyone in your district conduct or actively participate in effective critical thinking and decision making.
By giving all your people the skills and trusting in the capabilities and talents they were hired for, you can help them excel in all that they do and ensure better results for children across the board. Providing a modern critical thinking strategy can help you develop a common language and trusted approach within departments (think Special Education – administrators, data managers, coordinators, psychologists, specialists, teachers, aides, etc.) or across departments (nutrition, transportation, facilities, IT, finance, school leaders, C&I, etc.) and outside departments – including community and board members.
Think of the benefits of providing a common approach using proven critical thinking processes like Decision Analysis, Situation Appraisal, Problem Analysis and Potential Problem Analysis to your entire staff:
- Hearing all ideas –Letting people’s input be heard, recorded and considered not only increases success by opening minds to different ideas, but increases trust and support for solutions.
- Agreeing on a clear path to proceed – having a process that people are familiar with and understand, gives them the confidence to lead and/or become active participants.
- Getting a clear understanding and agreement on the problem or decision you are working on – Respect people’s time and expertise by keeping the focus on the problem at hand.
And that is just the beginning! Training your staff how to think critically is the one set of skills that can benefit a wide variety of staff and job levels and the children we serve. Building systems of thinking as the “way of doing business” in your district will increase success, save time and money, gain the trust and confidence from staff and community and ultimately benefit students. Can you think of any other professional development that will have the same impact across the board?