Have we become too afraid to say, “I don’t know.”? In an age of abundant information, should we ever need to say, “I don’t know.”?
I think that just because the information is in abundance and a Google search is always at our fingertips, we should not be afraid to tell someone we don’t know something. It’s important for leaders to show we don’t always have all the answers and it’s important to show this to our students too.
I think we have become so accustomed to having so much immediate information available to us, we’ve put a lot of pressure on ourselves as educators to always have the right answer the first time in front of each other and in front of our students. Traditionally, a classroom teacher has been viewed at the authority on the content they’re teaching. Leaders have traditionally been viewed as the “go to” person for new ideas, decisions that need to be made, or general guidance over the school or the district.
I’ve heard the adage, “the smartest person in the room is the room” used many times when talking about being a connected educator, or the general benefits of joining online communities via various social networks. If we truly believe that, then why do we allow ourselves to become so comfortable in our silos and on our islands of knowledge? Are we still spending too much time worrying about being better than the teacher down the hall?
But I get it; saying “I don’t know.” is hard sometimes. I would always prefer to be able to give someone a more immediate answer or solution. I feel like I’ve just become more comfortable and accepting in saying, “I don’t know.”. If I truly don’t, I sure don’t want to pretend like I do. Just as important as being ok saying, “I don’t know.”, is how you follow it up. “I don’t know, but I can sure find an answer and get back to you.” or “I don’t know, but I know someone who does!”.
While I don’t always like saying I don’t know the answer to something, I always try to remember that I’m going to learn something new because of it. Don’t be afraid to be real. We have way too much other stuff going on to not be.