Wednesday, December 11, 2013

School, SMS And Just-Culture.

A school division adapts 29 commitments to guide teacher’s actions, influence decisions and support in moving closer to a desired future of an inspired community of learners. The adaptation of these commitments sounds positive, great and excellent.

One of the commitments states: “Ensuring the physical and emotional safety of all members of our educational communities“.

One day a teacher makes a comment that a student born in a different country should not be proud of their family heritage, but adapt to be proud of the country where they live now. Some students feel an emotional embarrassment for being proud of whom they are. Another teacher makes a comment that one must be punished to be loved and parents who punish are caring parents. The question is forwarded to school division of how these teachings ensure students emotional safety. A school principal response is “Do you actually expect us to live by these commitments this in class?” A response from a school division executive is that this is a local school issue and should not be addressed to school division’s leaders.

In both instances teachers plays it downs to students misunderstanding, and the principal refuses to receive concerns and comments on the issues.  However, some teachers apply “exit-slips”, to capture feedback of what students believe is being communicated during class and to track what they learn.   

How does this fit in with a Safety Management System (SMS)?


This fits in with what management style students learn at a young age. A school division applies fine words of commitments which are placed on a board for students to read. There is no support at the level of school leaders, or a system of accountability in place to collect data, analyze trends and determine if these commitments were achieved. There is no room for continuous improvement in the school division. How is it then possible for a school division to submit true reports? 

Without a just- culture, accountability and learning, the trail leads to somewhere unknown. 
It will become natural for students to continue on this path as they enter into the workforce. In a school system, the responsibilities are removed from school division’s authorities and lack of progress is placed on students who are the lowest level in a hierarchy. There is no just-culture where leaders have free reins to place blame to whoever they pick and chose in the organization.

SMS is a just-culture of accountability throughout the organization, where members are given responsibilities, and accountability is compatible with learning.   

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