Thursday, January 24, 2013

Me vs. We

As I (and many others) have said before, Words Matter!

A relayed conversation got me thinking about Me vs. We. I think it would be an interesting study to interview Superintendents and Principals of comparable schools and districts that are considered successful and unsuccessful (it would take a long time to define that right now) and ask them questions using indefinite articles concerning the schools, students, academic programs, etc. under their charge.

What got me thinking was a conversation told to me of a Superintendent from a school district that is not considered successful through the lens of percentage of students who meet and/or exceed expectations on the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE). [Note: The PSAE is the NCLB mandated 2 day test which consists of the ACT for Day 1 and the Work Keys and a state developed assessment of science content.] When this Superintendent was talking about the schools, students, and academic programs, they continually said "my schools", "my students", etc., but when posing questions to the building principals, this superintendent used "you" and "your". (i.e. What is your building doing for the School Improvement Day?). The superintendent would then respond to the principals, again using "me" and "my".

In my humble opinion, there seems to be an inherent disconnect. Almost an implication that the superintendent could claim credit for any successes found within the schools or district, but then use the distance created between me and you in order to be shielded from an problems or failures. Wouldn't this also feed into an "us vs. them" mentality, if one existed?

I would be curious, in this proposed study, to see if the more successful schools and districts have building and district leaders that continually used "we" and "us", creating that sense of community and the thought that everyone is in it together.

What happens in your school/district? Is it a ME or a WE?

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