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Meet Blair, Personalized Learning Guru
Blair grew up around educators, so becoming a teacher himself was not a stretch. He knew what to expect when it came to the job responsibilities, but like many of us, he wasn’t expecting so much interpersonal tension between adults. I asked Blair to sit down with me to talk about this common obstacle and he brought a book he recently stumbled upon that has totally transformed the way that he approaches relationships in the workplace. We sat down together to share how this book might actually be beneficial to the education world. Read on to learn what he had to say.
As a somebody who coaches teachers now this book was really timely. The two two main takeaways for what to do as a boss are to care personally and challenge directly. This book is similar to a grown up leadership version of the No Nonsense Nurturing model.
So for the sake of the readers who are not looking at what we're looking at, can we go through all four of the quadrants in this Radical Candor model?
There are four categories of communication described in this book.
Who are the manipulatively insincere teachers on school campuses?
The first teacher that comes to mind is the teacher who stays under the radar. The ones who keep their heads down, show up, do everything they’re asked and then March shows up and they quite out of nowhere or say they won’t be returning the following year. And you think, “you just tricked and fooled us all!”
You're just taking the safe route. Staying in your lane and saying, this is my job. I'm going to do my job. I'm not going to let anyone know that I'm displeased and then I'm just going to disappear. That's manipulative because things aren't fine. It’s insincere because they don't actually feel that way and things are not fine and they do have concerns. They are the wild card.
What is an example of how someone could be radically candid?
The author of this book gives a really good example of radical candor in a tiny nutshell. Kim Scott had a dog that she loved and she was ruinously empathetic to it. She just would give it all the love and let it do whatever the heck it wanted. And she was walking the dog one day and the dog was trying to run into the street where there was traffic and a random person came to her and said, “You know, it looks like you care a lot about your dog,” which shows caring personally. Then they said, “but if you can't get it to behave, it's going to die in the street,” which is challenging directly.
How can we use this book to transform our schools?
We've all been in each of these four categories. However, on average, we will fall more in one of the four, but we could probably all find instances in our professional lives where depending on the work situation, on the environment, on the culture, on our mental state, we have all fallen into any of the four categories, but the ultimate goal is to be in radical candor as often as possible.
One thing I love that Kim mentions in her book is that there were days she was having a bad day and she would name that for her team. She would say, “I'm having a crappy day and it has nothing to do with your work. I had a fight with my husband last night, so I might come off as obnoxiously aggressive. It has nothing to do with you.” This requires being vulnerable and being authentic. Let's be real.
Another thing I enjoyed about the author is she gives us permission to not always be in radical candor. And, you know, when I went through No Nonsense training, I don't remember anyone ever telling me there were going to be times I was going to be oppressive. Yes, it's going to happen. You are going to be a negative controller. When you said for the 35th time stop putting that pencil in your nose, you're going to lose it, right? That's not good, but it's going to happen. You're human.
Lastly, the best way to elicit radical candor from others is to ask, “What can I do, or stop doing, that would make your job easier?”
Have you asked that question before to get candid feedback?
Yes! Someone gave me really drastically candid feedback recently. I had been asking teachers I coach what their self care goal was. One of the teachers I coach was significantly older than me. She has a family, she’s not overly stressed, she’s managing fine. She said, “You know, I can handle that on my own.” And I think that wouldn't have come up if I hadn't asked that question because, you know, people want to be positive, but that teacher was like, “Oh, you're giving me permission, let me be candid with you.” She then also immediately shared something that I've been doing that was helpful. It felt good to give, I don't want to say permission, but to give someone that space to share.
You can purchase the book Radical Candor on Amazon. They also have their own podcast called Radical Candor if you want to hear bite-sized tips and stories from the author, Kim Scott. For more information visit radicalcandor.com.
You can follow Blair on Twitter @blairtheblur.
Carla Rivera-Cruz (CRC) is an educator and entrepreneur committed to helping like-minded educators reach their fullest potentials.