A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

05 May 2012

2 Too Many Hats?

I'm writing this blog post as a response to the many different references to "wearing many hats" in the introduction section of my current online course that I am teaching.  Nearly every participant in the introductory module mentioned that they had many different roles and responsibilities within the context of their school or educational environment.

This has me thinking... while I understand the need to give various roles to the same person as a way to preserve management and money in a school, I wonder what is the impact of having all those different hats?  Is there a point of "too many hats"?  Is "many hats" a positive situation or a negative one?

According to Karen Susman in her blog post on blanace, she points out that balance is the key in everything we do in our personal and educational lives.  This, of course, I believe in deeply as it is one of the attributes of the learner profile that we use in the PYP curiculum.  But how do we achieve balance especially when wearing many hats is a necessary part of the job we have been assigned?  

Click below to read more!
Farther in the article, Karen suggests some step by step lessons on how to identify and manage the many different hats that we are often asked to wear in our jobs. These suggestions immediately reminded me of the story of the rocks that I often share during my workshops with teachers.  After sharing this story teachers often nod and write down that they need to prioritize various aspects of their personal and professional careers.  I agree.  I need to do that too; however, I am now thinking that it is bigger than balance and prioritizing.  

I think as a school and as a profession, we need to identify and really consider the impact that many different roles and responsibilities have on the students at our schools.  This is not an easy discussion, nor something that is easy to fix, but certainly something that we need to keep in the forefront of our discussions as we consider educational reform, shifting educational paradigms etc.  Are we adding more hats to the mix inadvertently?  How do we stop adding hats and focus on the organisation of the hats we already have?  Can we control the outcome of "many hats" as a positive or a negative one?

I've come up with these few points so far regarding "many hats" in our jobs..

  • Many hats provides different perspectives which can enhance decisions from one position to another
  • Different roles help develop empathy for those who share a role similar to you
  • Changing roles helps establish flexibility in thinking and develops the ability to stand back and see something from another point of view
  • Many hats divides your time across many areas limiting the amount of focused time you can give to each
  • Different roles means that there is more work to be done, especially if someone is organisationally challenged!
  • Changing roles means that there is a danger in missing something and not being witness to all of the details that should be celebrated 
So what are your thoughts... is "many hats" a term to be applauded or derided?  What impact does this practice of "many hats" have on our students?  Is there a point when "many hats" is too many?


Photo Source: Roger Art


Noeline L said...

Thanks for sharing your insights, on a Saturday morning, no less ;) When I began reading, I thought I was going to read about De Bono’s “Six Hats Tool” (http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_07.htm) which might not be a bad suggestion for the wearers of many hats. Sometimes a few core folk in an institution or, more specifically a school, wear many hats, because they are the only people who want to or are able to become involved in said activities. I’m wondering then if hats were given to them. If so, their reaction would be different from the people who offer to wear hats. If one is accepting an array of hats, which would make the balancing of them difficult, perhaps those are the folk who should apply the “Six Hats Tool” to the hats they’re sporting. Folk who have the hats foisted on them, might have to learn to say, “No.”

jessievaz12 said...

Yes, a good point I think. I hadn't considered adding De Bono but I can certainly see where they could fit into the model. Surely applying those thinking hats could help balance someone with too many roles in a school.

I think you bring up an interesting point as well. I think it happens all too often that many roles or "hats" are given without being asked. While it seems logical that those people should say "no" to keep their balance (as well as sanity!) I think we can agree that that is not always possible. For many reasons we can't say know, many times because we don't want to disappoint the ones who matter most... the students. When is it that a teacher or administrator can say "no" to one more role or "hat"?

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