Working in the same school environment for over 36 years, there have, of course, been bumps along the road; but now in hindsight, I realize that these experiences have shaped who I am and my outlook on life. I often have strong reactions to situations and voiced my opinions, concerns and points of view. Did I listen and consider others’ perspectives? As I grew older often times yes, but to be truthful, sometimes, no! When I first started teaching, I though I knew so much (as a parent I had first hand experience with kids, didn’t I?). I might have scoffed at what others thought or said, thinking, well if it doesn’t effect me, how can they be right! But in a short time I knew that there was so much more for me to learn! And so I lead into this post.
My school is going through major renovation and construction. A building demolished, classes moving to temporary (maybe 18 months) modulars and offices relocated to other spaces. There is excitement, anticipation and questions; so much work and coordination involved. I am beginning to understood how choreographers or sports coaches work to coordinate their dances and plays.
I have been fascinated by the different responses to this upheaval. One new building is up and almost ready for the occupants (classes)! The modulars that will house toddlers, 3s and 4s are ready. There has been incredible group effort in moving (packing up the old rooms) and now unpacking into the new classrooms. And as I looked at the teachers, administrators, staff, maintenance and all who are involved in the daily life of the school, I wondered how many talk to each other. Do they share their perspectives? Do they have opportunities to voice their POV (point of view); not to the like minded participants necessarily, but to those who might disagree or have another POV? Do they share their concerns and opinions? Were they heard? Who was their “go to person?” I know we all need one. Someone who is ready to listen, not necessarily to agree, but to be there to listen to our perspective.
Since the beginning of this academic year, I have seen the dedicated teachers supporting each other as they got ready for the big move. Some glitches of course, but Monday school starts after winter break. For some students there will be very little impact, but for others a bigger adjustment. And the same can be said for the adults (teachers, administrators and staff) on campus. Parents, as well, will be making accommodations to the change. This truly is a “village” undertaking.
As I reflect about this, I also think about student perspectives. How do our students see or perceive situations, either academic or social? Do we stop and consider those messages from our students? How do we read their body language? How do we read each other’s body language? Do we allow time to discuss our differing perspectives? Do we give our students that same consideration? And if we don’t have the space, place and time to talk, then where does that leave us? Do we just have a voice but then no venue to understand each other’s POV? We don’t have to agree, but in listening we might learn a little more about each other.
Have you found yourself in situations where your ideas are at odds with colleagues? Are you able to find a common ground? Have you been stopped in your tracks by your students’ unexpected response to a situation or question? And then, I wonder if we can see a connection between “PERSPECTIVE” and “EMPATHY” – do we need one to build the other?
My #wintercamp days with the 3s. Spending time in the library means you read books and look at all the construction going on outside.