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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What is Respect?

We have general notions of respect--be kind, be polite, listen. . .

But, in our workplaces and our specific jobs, what do you consider respect?  I bet if we discussed that topic, our answers would differ and the conversation would be both rewarding and community building (if led well).

As a classroom teacher, there are a number of actions that equal respect for me.  Most of the respectful behaviors I list have to do with acknowledging the specifics of my job.
  • First, remember that I'm a professional who is making the time to think, plan and respond with care.  Leading without integrating my voice feels like you don't deem my worth, training and experience as important.
  • Next, lead time is essential.  I'm balancing a lot of prep, research, response and implementation of instruction each day.  I often can't respond when notices are dropped on my desk or via email at the last minute--a couple weeks notice gives me time to plan and prepare.
  • Also, learning is more than an event.  To make learning meaningful, send out the reading material early so I can preview if I want to. Let me know what the event will entail so I can be prepared, and tell me the rationale too so I can see the meaningful connections. Of course, follow-up helps too.
  • Remember that I'm on task the large portion of the day. Rather than rushing in and out, or taking a coffee break, it would be awesome if someone offered to take one of my recess duties so I could transition from one lesson to the other, or reflect about a meeting for a few minutes.  Many without classroom responsibilities have that time, but classroom teachers often don't have any time in between lessons or meetings to synthesize, plan and summarize.
  • As a classroom teacher I've learned to multi-task well.  Hence knowing about change and initiatives early on gives me a chance to read up on it, prepare and question with time--whereas last minute notice creates stress since I don't have the time to transition with care.
  • When you "walk-through," follow up with a short note pointing to something positive and perhaps a question for future growth. Walk-throughs have a "military feel" and send a message of authority rather than team, so if you do it, you could soften the experience with a kind note. 
Those are a few actions that would feel like respect from my position as a classroom teacher.  I'm wondering what kinds of actions would feel like respect from your role in the school?  What feels like respect from the view point of coach, principal, team leader, curriculum director or teaching assistant?  

We often assume that we know what others expect, but if we aren't clear about our own expectations and needs, others may unknowingly react in ways that we find disrespectful. 

Have you ever made the time to discuss this with your team?  It would be a tender talk, and would have to be done with care, but it could be enlightening.  Or in a simpler way, perhaps the first time you begin working with someone, you could ask the question, "What are your expectations?  How do you prefer collaboration, communication and team?"