Sunday, December 29, 2013

Caring Collaboration

At times the collaboration mantra moves to more negative than positive speak, action, and effort. Less than positive collaboration includes side talk, rumors, conjecture, secrets, unjust favors, ego, and lack of transparent effort or thought. All of this creates an environment where positivity is hindered and blocked.

I think that we can all think of times when we contributed to a less than positive work environment--a time when our decisions thwarted best action rather than contributed toward it.  For most of us those actions were not purposefully negative, but instead reflections of a lack of understanding, good habits, or apt mentoring--we may not have understood the err in our effort.

Moving forward, there is much we all can do to contribute to a positive collaborative environment.

First, ask rather than conjecture. If you don't understand a decision, motive, or effort, ask to gain understanding. In many environments of old, asking was often seen as negative, but the research clearly supports transparency and the power of knowing today, so rather than conjecture, ask.

Next, keep children center stage. Rather than blaming each other when things don't go as planned, assess and re-plan together with children's best interests center stage. Our one common denominator in schools is the welfare of children.

After that, if something bothers you, speak up with respect. Try to help others understand where you are coming from and why the issue, words, or actions bother you. None of us walk in each other's shoes, hence it's our obligation to help others understand where we're coming from.

Make amends, and move beyond the digressions of the past. We all err, and we all make poor decisions at one time or another. Apologize to those you may have hurt in the past, and move forward with best intention, action, and opinion.

Then, create common goals. Nothing bonds a team more than a common goal that serves a cause greater than the team itself. Make the time to create common goals, action plans, assessments, and next steps.

Contribute. Don't be the critic on the sideline. Instead, value your strengths and contribute your gifts to the organization and children you serve.

Similarly, don't expect to have all the answers or be able to solve all the problems yourself.  Take advantage of others' strengths, talents, and abilities as you work to meet the needs of your students.

Caring collaboration means moving beyond your personal goals, strengths, and vision. It also means forgiving yourself for past digressions, disagreements, and unsuccessful efforts.  In the new year, move forward with strength, care for one another, and apt collaborative work--that's the best gift you can give to the students you serve each day.