Saturday, January 04, 2014

Do Your Words Match Your Practice?

Do your words match your practice?

I ask this because I read a wonderful note by an educator that was in direct opposition to that individual's work.

I would answer for myself that my words outpace my practice, and that my words actually challenge my practice.  I know who I want to be, how I want to practice, and where I want to be, but my vision as expressed in words often leads my action. I strive to meet my words, and often do--but I want to be cognizant of the fact that my words often outpace me.  I would probably be described as more of an idealist than a realist in this regard.

As I currently think of my practice, the words related to collaboration are giving me the most challenge. It's difficult to collaborate in traditional education systems that are often not structured for optimal collaboration. We're moving forward with PLCs and increased released time for planning and response, but our time to collaborate in meaningful ways, in my opinion, still doesn't match the potential and promise optimal collaboration holds for teaching children well.

With the new year here, I will commit to developing collaborative skill with greater effort so that the words in my posts truly illustrate my action as well as my intent/vision.  How can I do this?
  • Transparency with kindness. Share questions, observations, and ideas with best intent, expectation, kindness, efficiency and clarity. 
  • Wait time. Growing up in a busy, small house of eight I learned to multitask in a busy environment.  Most, however, don't operate with that level of speed, quick transition, and circuitous manner.  Hence, I must work to present my ideas logically, and then give people the time they need to respond, digest, and question the idea. Collaboration requires respect for needed time.
  • Less humor. As a fan of late night comedy, sometimes my way of dealing with conflict is to make a joke, which works in some circles, but when you're working to do meaningful work those "late night" jokes don't always serve to move the agenda forward in a positive way.  I find that my students often do the same thing--used to the sarcasm and humor of sitcoms they often don't know when to take a discussion or novelty seriously, and when it's time for humor.  With limited time, staying on task with respectful attention is important. 
  • Knowing each other.  Some of the best collaborators I know, stop to take the time to know their teams well.  That's important, and when genuine, it's a terrific way to build positive collaboration.
  • Keep the discussions and work child focused--when we put children in the center of our work, we all benefit and the collaboration grows.
  • Acknowledge obstacles and strategize with the team about ways to remove the obstacles. Sometimes taking the time upfront to work out the challenges, saves time in the end. 
  • Revisit protocols. Recently our team deviated from our protocols which created a bit of disharmony for our team.  It's important to stick to the protocols or thoughtfully and inclusively change them if needed. 
  • Meet challenges, confrontations, and requests with a smile and time to think. At times what you're asked to do may alarm you and you're tempted to respond accordingly, it's best to take a break at those times, think on the matter, and then respond (disarm, as my colleague refers to it).
So in response to this morning's first #satchat question about what challenging goal will you set for yourself this year, I am choosing caring collaboration. I'm going to grow this skill with strength.  I look forward to any resources, posts, or literature you can offer me to inform this goal and work.