I am often asked “just what is the Culture of Yes?” Although the ‘culture’ continues to evolve, it is still the belief system as I set out to define in my address on my first day as Superintendent:
It is the “culture of yes”, we have and will continue to foster — one that embraces new ideas and new ways to look at learning and organize learning; a “culture of yes” that supports innovation and creativity for both learners and teachers, knowing this is how we will continue to evolve. It is a “culture of yes” that touches on the passions we entered the profession with, and that may have sometimes been lost along the way, but hopefully, found again.
Yes, it’s okay to ship your work.
Yes, you’re capable of making a difference.
Yes, it’s important.
Yes, you can ignore that critic.
Yes, your bravery is worth it.
Yes, we believe in you.
Yes, you can do even better.
Yes is an opportunity and yes is an obligation. The closer we get to people who are confronting the resistance on their way to making a ruckus, the more they let us in, the greater our obligation is to focus on the yes.
There will always be a surplus of people eager to criticize, nitpick or recommend caution. Your job, at least right now, is to reinforce the power of the yes.
Seth’s blog brings to mind a story I recently heard regarding innovation and education in England. The government proposed to their education system they could apply to have any rules, laws, etc. suspended in the name of innovation (there is currently a similar initiative in BC). Those who wanted to ‘not comply’ had to make application to the government with the appropriate rationale. The project’s one major finding was over 80% of applications received were unnecessary. Why? Because the rules that hundreds of educators had applied to have suspended didn’t actually exist. I think this general challenge is also true in British Columbia — we believe we are more restricted by laws, rules and legislation than we actually are (possibly by rules that don’t exist, as well) thereby justifying the belief that innovation is not possible and we continue to accept the Status Quo.
In education, more than any other profession, we need to continue to promote YES; “yes” for the teacher embracing formative assessment discouraged by the parent who claims this is not how they were assessed in school; “yes” for the school that cannot re-imagine their programs in their current, highly successful system; “yes” for the people to take the risk knowing the road to change is long and challenging.
And, it is certainly nice to know there are others pushing for YES.