Too Smart for the Common Core?


Can being smart get in the way of Common Core success?

I’ve been coaching school leaders who have embraced the rigors of transformational leadership to prepare teachers and students for the Common Core. In the summer we planned and since the summer we’ve been executing the plan.

During the planning process, I encouraged them to embrace the challenge that was ahead: cultivating a culture of intellectual humility (IH). The Critical Thinking Foundation shares that IH is an intellectual trait that should be developed as a critical thinker and they define IH as the following:

Having a consciousness of the limits of one’s knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one’s native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one’s viewpoint.

Last week during his reflection, a Vice Principal admitted that IH is a must for everyone involved when leading for transformation. He also recognized a major obstacle to IH. When you work with a group of people who are lauded often for being very smart, it becomes challenging to get them to say ‘I don’t know how to’.” He is on a quest to cultivate a culture of IH, but first he had to become comfortable with finding the “right” mix of sharing his own limitations while being trusted to lead the instructional program. His Mentor Teachers have recently discovered their mix, and now it’s time to facilitate vulnerability among the staff.

In a recent coaching session, he established his vision for the second half of the year:

“I want to see an organization where at all levels people are comfortable to stop pressing forward on initiatives that they don’t fully understand [and to place themselves in a true learning space.]”

As we all know, the CCSS is dominating our conversations. How to…what to…when to…etc. Through it all, we must courageously demonstrate IH in order to accelerate adult learning–for ourselves and those we lead or coach.

This evening, a Linkedin colleague, Mary Anne Hipp said it well when she stated, “None of us are where we need to be. We are all a work in progress, personally and professionally. I am a proponent of one-on-one time between administrators and teachers/other staff to discuss personal and professional growth plans and to monitor and encourage a successful journey for one another.”

In the era of Common Core we must recognize our limitations in order to grow quickly and as collaborators. That’s the smart that will lead to the success we seek.