—Ancient Greek proverb, attributed to Socrates
If we’re to improve our practice as educators, we need to know how we’re currently doing, and honestly assess what we need to change.
But that’s not as easy as it sounds, because it’s pretty hard to know yourself.
Heck, I can’t even tell if my shirt’s tag is sticking up, much less identify all of my best opportunities for professional growth.
Plenty of people made fun of Donald Rumsfeld for talking about “known knowns” and “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” but there’s something to all this.
The Johari Window helps us map out the blind spots:
Feedback from Others
Right away, we can see why getting feedback from others is helpful:
- It prompts us to take action on “open” areas of growth, that we might already know about but not yet have acted on
- It gives us a chance to learn about growth edges that we’ve been “blind” to
But opportunities to get feedback from peers are pretty rare in most schools.
Seeking Signals From The Unknown
So how can we peer into our “unknown” areas of practice, if they’re invisible to us and to others who observe us?
Simple: through seeing, firsthand.
If we sit around a table in the library and merely tell each other what goes on in our classrooms, there’s going to be a fair amount of both self-deception and posturing.
And if we just tell ourselves we’re doing great, without ever seeing our own practice—without looking in the mirror—we’re hanging out in the “blind” quadrant.
But if, on the other hand, we actually see ourselves in action, on video, the impact is immediate and dramatic.
And seeing is believing.
Seeing Is Believing
If you see what I’m actually doing in the classroom, your feedback isn’t just idle opinion.
If I film myself, watch the video, and reflect for a bit on what I actually see, my capacity for self-deception will be diminished, and my opportunities for real growth will increase dramatically.
If I then get your input, and show you the same video, I’m going to blow out the Johari Window. I’m going to have far fewer blind spots and unknowns in my practice—at least, in the aspects of practice that can show up on video.
Note: We Don’t Do This
I’m not saying anything new, here. But I’m advocating for practices that are almost never…well, practiced.
It’s easy to understand why—getting feedback from a peer can be intimidating, not to mention a logistical challenge.
Arranging schedules, finding substitutes, creating a climate of trust—it’s no wonder that virtually everyone believes we should see each other teach, yet virtually no one ever does it.
That’s why we created the Professional Collaboration Challenge—to help you gain greater insights into your own practice, and give and receive helpful feedback around your most important instructional priorities.
Register for the Professional Collaboration Challenge, and we’ll share powerful strategies, tools, and techniques for making collaboration part of your practice, without disrupting your schedule or taking more time out of your day.