This morning we had a meeting with TEA, Teaching and Learning staff, elementary teachers, and principals to continue looking at the teacher stress caused by having more content than can be covered in a student day. From my experience, if I were to graph the stress over time it might look like the graph below.
So, what makes this effort any different than those we have implemented in the past? We are using system tools to process the issue in a new way. The tools are designed to focus on creating a common understanding of our current reality and the structures and mental models in place that create these results. Once we reach this point, we can then begin to identify new preferred mental models and structures with the potential to change the results that lead to high stress and that will sustain over time. The process takes time and perseverance as these conversations are not the norm and they require not only balancing advocacy with inquiry, but reflection and the capacity to truly suspend assumptions that drive our mental models and ladders of inference.
The figure below, developed by a local systems thinking consultant, captures the process. The model gives the perception of a linear process, unfortunately in reality with an issue of this complexity it will be anything but linear. We have already begun to experience this in our work.
I'll share more of my thinking on the need for using these tools in a later post.