Age of Awareness
Published in

Age of Awareness

Creating a Playbook

Perhaps the most difficult lesson for me to learn as a young administrator was that I was not the first person to wrestle with whatever problem I was facing, and that I did not have to manufacture a novel solution for it. This was not an exam. What I learned, over the years, is that shared expertise is the driver of excellence, and that many people had faced whatever problem I was facing and they had developed many solutions for them, as well. The problem was that collectively, we tended not to gather those solutions in a systematic way — we depended on the tacit knowledge of the system.

I have come to learn that it is well worth the extra time to write down what works. By taking the time to create a “playbook” for how certain problems should be handled, you create routine for the system, extra time for people to jump over some basic problem identification and solving steps, and you give everyone a better opportunity to improve on those known solutions.

As an example, one of the most difficult things that can happen to a child is having a parent placed under the control of the criminal justice system. A parent being arrested or put in prison has a significant and detrimental effect on a child. What’s more, these effects are somewhat known. However, most districts don’t realize, in a systematic way, which students this is happening to, and what those students might need in order to mitigate these traumatic effects.

The creation of a playbook that spells out best practices to identify who this is happening to and how to help keep students connected to parents, how to keep parents empowered as parents, and how to help students through emotional struggles that could make class difficult saves countless hours of social workers’ time and eases the frustration of parents, students and teachers alike.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

– Abraham Lincoln




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