Harvard Graduate School of Education Logo

Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

Fall 2016

Deliberately Developmental

Deliberately DevelopmentalStudents don’t have to be the only ones with revitalized learning in the new school year. Teachers may have finished their formal education years ago, but in the post-school decades, adult brains can continue to develop. As they enhance the growth of students, teachers can also work to ensure that they keep developing and learning.

But what if your school is not the kind of organization that deliberately puts employee growth at the center of the agenda? What if you want to grow in your job — professionally and personally — but your school doesn’t seem to value it or doesn’t have the resources to promote it?

A recent book written by several from the Ed School, including Professor Bob Kegan and Lecturers Lisa Lahey, Ed.M.’80, Ed.D.’86; Matt Miller, Ed.M.’01, Ed.D.’06; and Deborah Helsing, Ed.D.’03, makes the argument that you can still prioritize growth. Offering strategies they developed after watching several companies in action, the authors of An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization say any worker can concentrate on personal growth and spread a similar mindset to colleagues. Here are four ways to be, as the authors explain in the book, “deliberately developmental” in school or in any workplace:

  • Become “developmental buddies” with a co-worker. Set aside time regular time to chat. Instead of offering each other advice, ask each other how you’re both progressing in achieving your goals.
  • Create an “immunity-tochange map” of your goals. To do this, set a goal, list the behaviors that have been stopping you from achieving that goal, and then ask yourself what scares you when you imagine yourself not exhibiting those behaviors.
  • Seek small-scale, regular feedback. Ask co-workers to provide feedback on a specific assignment or on your performance during a meeting. For example: “I’m working on being more welcoming of perspectives that are different than my own. Can you let me know how I do listening and responding during our next team meeting?”
  • Look for role models. Notice how colleagues and leaders you admire seek feedback, model behaviors that you value, and invest in the growth of those around them. Then ask to talk to them about their approach to learning and growing in the workplace.

Read more on Usable Knowledge.

Listen to an EdCast with Lisa Lahey.

Illustration by Laurent Cilluffo