Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Questions to Consider


I must admit The Book of Beautiful Questions written by author Warren Berger has been sitting on my to-read list for quite a while now. It was a gift from a thoughtful colleague but it never got to the top of my pile of books until I listen to Daniel Pink’s Pincast 3.09 on intellectual humility. In his message, Pink asked the listener “do you have a willingness to recognize what you think, what you believe might be wrong.” Admittedly...this is a difficult question for many of us to ask and more importantly to then reflect on.

As a school leader with multiple decisions to make I often ask myself and others many, many questions before heading in one direction, But are they the right questions to ask to get the full understanding of the changes we need/want to make? Warren states, “To improve our decision-making capabilities, we need to sharpen our critical thinking. And to do that we must arm ourselves with a set of critical questions--and be willing to consistently ask and thoughtfully consider the questions before rendering judgment” (p. 18). 

In The Book of Beautiful Questions, Warren focuses on questions for better decision-making, addresses questions for creativity and innovation, frames how questions can support us truly connecting with others, and gives the reader questions to consider to develop stronger leadership skills. I highly recommend that those that read the book do so with a pen and notebook in hand. As you read write down those questions that can be utilized with humility to learn more from others who you serve, support, and yes love.

The initial list I created while reading consisted of twenty questions. I thought I could challenge myself to ask these on a regular basis. Reality check...not truly feasible considering the amount. I narrowed down my list by highlighting one in each of Berger’s categories and then condensed the list even more with just three questions and added one bonus question that acts more like a directive for myself for a total of four questions to consistently use. I selected the following.

A question to ask myself more often for self-reflection. 
Am I looking to protect and defend or seek to understand?

A question to ask teachers to gain their perspective and insights. 
Can one response really give me their entire perspective? What else do I need to know?

A question to ask students who often just make me laugh with their honesty.
Am I giving students opportunities to answer open-ended questions to share their thinking? 

A question to put on my computer monitor in my office to get me up and out!
Am I taking the time to connect with students, staff, and families?

Warren hares, “The challenge of leading, in almost any area, is becoming more complex and demanding” (p.16). Leading in isolation should not be an option for any school or organization. “From an individual career standpoint, continued success will depend on having the ability to keep learning while updating and adapting what we already know. We must continually invest or reinvent the work we do every day. None of this is possible without constant questioning” (p.14). 

With humility, ask, listen, reflect, learn, and change, in order to grow.

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