In Building Leadership Capacity in Schools, Linda Lambert mentions the need for educational leaders to sometimes break the "norm of silence." The n.o.s. looks something like this:

"I won't talk with you about anything you're uncomfortable with."(p. 54)
I admit that this has been my attitude towards some (but not all) of my colleagues regarding many of the ideas written about on this blog. Looking back on this practice, I am ashamed to see the change that "could have happened" but didn't due to my silence. For example, I have been mulling over a way to change homework grading practices for several years. It led to the assessment and grading revolution my regular readers know I have been working through and sharing via this blog. I remember when my math education colleagues finally were convinced that posting homework answers on the board for students to see anytime as they worked through the problem sets was a good idea.Why am I, still to this day, ashamed to share my ideas about assessment reform with my colleagues? This hit home several days ago when I sat on a panel of "veteran teachers" speaking to a group of pre-service educators at an evening class. One student asked the question, "What is one thing you would change about the educational system? I suggested that the way we grade and report student progress needs quite a bit of fixing and I had some ideas on how this might be done, but would only share them if there was enough time at the end of the Q&A session. After my colleagues on the panel discussed NCLB and "too much paperwork" as their pet peeves, I could only smile. Was that any surprise to these pre-service teachers? I'm guessing any current introductory to education textbook mentions the pitfalls of NCLB, but grading?!

Sure enough, a brave middle-aged man asked me a follow-up question about grading towards the end of the time allocated for the teacher panel. I boldly laid out an assessment-for-learning rich classroom with a reporting scheme based on learning targets rather than specific assessments. By comparing my system with the traditional grading system, it was easier than I thought to gain the attention and respect of these pre-service teachers. It seemed so easy. Maybe it was the follow-up email from one of the students wanting to know more about this "anti-grades" idea? Maybe it was the conversation with a colleague in the parking lot after the panel about how he might work towards this ideal? I do know that my "assessment secrets" should no longer be purposefully be hidden in a box.

What's stopping me from breaking the "norm of silence" with my own colleagues? What's stopping you from sharing all of the ideas you read, tweet and blog about with your education-minded colleagues?