Like it or not, school do need policies and guidelines, whether it be for how we go about assessment, giving homework, dealing with academic dishonesty, or matters pertaining to the safeguarding of children.
Writing the policy, guidelines or procedures, is the easy part. The challenge comes in the implementation. If we decide to share a policy with staff in a meeting, those present may find it boring and wish to be elsewhere, as the policy does not, in some way, apply to them or it is not relevant, at least for now until something happens and leaders in the school are asked, what should we do now?
Perhaps, that is not fair on teachers, as the style of delivery of policy items in many instances is mundane at best, so it’s no wonder why teachers are looking for the exit door or a reason to skip the meeting.
Well we could always send out the policy document, as everyone will read it, as a true professional should. If you are detecting some cynicism in the previous sentence, then you would be correct. If a policy or procedure document was emailed out to staff in your school, how many would read it? I expect that the answer would be significantly below 100%.
So, how do we engage teachers better with our important policies, so that we can ensure a good level of implementation in the interest of our students, parents and fellow colleagues?
I have found that using scenarios is a great way to have teachers discuss specific situations that they may encounter during their time in our schools. Scenario meetings are great to get teachers to refer to policies, guidelines and procedures to discuss a school’s preferred response to a given situation. Of course, there can be debate over the policy, though that is not the point, as we so often struggle to reach consensus on how we should handle certain issues and problems. The benefit is that through scenarios, you will get teachers looking at the documentation that we struggle to get them to read or listen to when we have meetings where teachers are passive participants.
Scenarios get teachers active and passionate about how we deal with some of the more common problems in our schools and those that are less familiar. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Scenario 1 – Describe a situation where a student has submitted plagiarized work and have teachers discuss what action should be taken.
Scenario 2 – Describe a situation where there has been a change in a child’s attention and performance in class. Discuss what action the teacher should take.
Scenario 3 – Describe a bullying incident between two students. Discuss the appropriate action to take.
*Note: It good to let people discuss without the policy documents first and after some discuss allow them to then refer to the school’s stance on the issue(s) / problem(s)
By describing the scenario, get the teachers to determine which policy, guideline or procedure they should be referring to and taking action from. It is great way to make a number of those uninspiring policy meetings, at least, a little more exciting and relevant.