When principals and teacher leaders speak their truths

Dennis SparksI wonder how many children’s lives might be saved if we educators disclosed what we know to each other. —Roland Barth

What would happen if principals and teacher leaders were given a truth serum so that they had no choice but to tell their truths in the way that Roland Barth meant it?

And what would happen if their example infected the school community so that everyone consistently said what they really thought about issues pertaining to children?

Here are a few things I’ve learned about truth-telling in schools:

1. My truth is not the same as “The Truth.” All that any of us can do is describe our portion of what seems true, how things appear to us at the moment.

2. Our truth is more influential and is more likely to strengthen relationships when it is spoken with respect and compassion.

3. Telling our truth sometimes requires courage. I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” Knowing that you are speaking on behalf of children helps us find our courage.

4. Courageous conversations sometimes benefit from preparation and rehearsal. When we know in advance that we are likely to have an opportunity to speak our truth we can clarify our views by writing them and practicing saying them out loud. Sometimes it even helps to role play the situation with a trusted colleague or friend.

Question: What do you do to motivate and prepare yourself for candid conversations?

2 Responses to “When principals and teacher leaders speak their truths”


  1. 1 G. Michael Abbott January 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

    It requires two people at least to speak truths, one who listens thoughtfully and politely. I read many items on good listening, but few on the importance of speaking. Speaking truths encourages the listener to listen carefully, just as a good listener encourages the speaker to speak truths. Both good listeners and good truth-tellers are scarce. Great essay on one side of dialogue that isn’t mentioned often.

    Mike

  2. 2 Rebecca Morr January 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Unfortunately, principals and teacher leaders are often seen as the means to “communicate the district policy,” rather than seen as valued contributers in *setting* district policy. Your article provides encouragement and support to those who have a vision of what “could be.” You make a very compelling case for speaking one’s truth – – in spite of perceived drawbacks!


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