that I like. I know it is annoying and joke that someone could either tally mark me or make a drinking game based on my "go to catch phrases". For the first time, yesterday, someone called me on my phrase..."What was that phrase you used? I have never heard that before, what does it mean?" EEEKK! Think fast...come on...you can do this....
After my quick recovery and stellar response, I reflected on this phrase that I have definitely "over played".
Where did I even get this from? I know it had to be from somewhere, as many of my thoughts originate from elsewhere. Oh yes...someone was talking to me about their place of business. They described it as a "flat organization". So, admittedly, I had NO CLUE what that meant, so during the discussion...I Googled it. Thank goodness for Google! I was able to continue in the conversation without missing a beat. I liked this idea of "flat". The way I understood it, in this context, was that this business had very few levels. That "titles" and "ego" were checked at the door. It had a team atmosphere; all for one and one for all! People were free to communicate with whomever they wished, about whatever they wished. There was transparency and the idea of all being on the same side of the coin. Maybe I'm wrong, but to me, I liked the idea. So I have run with it.
How "flat organization" turned into "flattened walls", I have no clue. Is that even a "thing"? It sounded good to me. When I picture "walls flattening", I picture them falling down to create bridges, a way to bring people together. Here are some of my ideas as I discuss the "flattening of walls":
community as a whole. The students know this and they feel it. They feel as close to the teacher they had 4 years ago, as to their current teacher. They know the teacher down the hall, and that teacher knows them...regardless if they have ever visited that class. The students feel a sense of belonging and community regardless of their grade, class, SES, IQ, grades. It is a community of learners and everyone has the ability and opportunity to contribute.
2: The staff of a school feels that same sense of belonging. Staff feels comfortable sharing and discussing ideas. No one person is valued more than another. They are a team, regardless of titles, positions, certifications or years of service. There is no "us" vs "them" when it comes to doing what is best for kids.
*I just read an anecdote where someone was interviewing staff at a hospital. They were simply asking them what their job was. This person had interviewed a maid, who had just changed some sheets. When asked what her job was, she responded "I help cure cancer!". Someone on that staff had flattened those walls with the belief that EVERY single person played a part in a patient's recovery, regardless of the task. That maid took pride and ownership and value in her position as she was helping to cure cancer. AMAZING!
3: The idea of parents as partners. Families should feel welcomed and connected to their school site. This would look different from site to site, but it is the idea that everyone is working together for the common goal: the students. Whether it is in the form of a warm welcome in the front office, parents working in the classroom, family nights, sharing school happenings via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, flattening the walls to let families in is important. They want what is best for their kids and so do we. It's a shared responsibility.
Flattening the walls for professional learning and collegial discussions: We are very fortunate to have platforms such as Twitter, to form connections with people from all over. It is a fantastic place to collaborate with people on shared topics. The great thing about this platform, to me, is that the "walls are flattened". Everyone is so willing to share and discuss. People whom I consider my "eduheros" will join in on my discussions. Authors chat frequently with their readers. It is a place where, hopefully, people's ideas feel valued. It is a place to grow and learn together, no matter who you are, or what you do.
Flattening the walls of an organization: More often then not, in any organization, there is this feeling of division. "Us v Them". Division based on rank, titles, positions. I understand and respect the importance of such titles, ranks and positions, but I don't believe it has to be a hard line drawn with a sharpie, that can not be crossed. I know there are leaders for a reason, and I absolutely respect that. The idea of flattening the walls, to me, means that all stake holders feel comfortable in sharing their ideas, feeling valued. To me, since the walls are down, it also means transparency for all. No secrets as everyone should be working for the same goal.
When I was in high school, I was a "copy girl" for a big environmental research company. I was the bottom, of the bottom. I wore t-shirts and jeans while everyone else wore white lab coats or suits. What I remember most from working there, was that the owners of the company had a system where any employee...from the top chemists to the copy girl; could write up a suggestion to help the organization. If they liked your suggestion, you earned a $25 gift card to Macy's. Now to a 17 year old girl, way back then...that was a BIG deal. And being 17 and naive, I had no qualms about dropping in my suggestions. Well low and behold...this little copy girl earned herself a whole new wardrobe from Macy's. I put in suggestion after suggestion and I received gift card after gift card. I don't think, to this day, I have ever felt so valued.
None of my suggestions had to do with what the organization actually did, but were about the environment of the organization and the health of the employees. Some had to do with helping the organizational flow of the endless papers I would copy and file. But MY suggestions were being honored! I felt amazing!!! To me, that place had some flattened walls and it made an impact on me. It taught me how to treat people. Treat all people with respect and show them that they are valued. ALL people.
Whatever you think of when you hear the term, "flattened walls" my hope is that it conjures up some ideas of teamwork, collaboration, bridges, belonging, honor and value. I believe that we are all better together...so let's knock down some walls and join forces!
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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