A year ago I met a professional challenge.
I raised my voice and shared opinion with a colleague during a conversation where we debated pedagogy, roles, resources, and systems of good teaching/learning.
Another colleague and his/her ally reported my strong voice and tone to an administrator which resulted in a series of painful events for which I had to hire a private lawyer and write a letter of apology.
The pain from that event continues to arise in dreams and moments of reflection. At the time of the incident, I was frustrated. I felt voiceless and reacted by raising my voice. The words I shared I still believe in today, but I do agree that we don't forward good work or thought when we use too-strong voices or tone. Hence, I apologized.
Sadly, there were other painful events that occurred. For example, why didn't the anonymous colleague come to me first to talk about it. I'm not perfect; I'm open to change. Also, a couple of other confidants surprisingly weren't there to support me either--confidants I had trusted and shared my most personal and deeply held beliefs about education with. Further, I wish I had the chance to sit at the table with those who complained to resolve the conflict and talk it out, but sadly, that never happened which only serves to silence and challenge team. Even later, I asked some of those involved to sit down and review the events with me so I could gain greater understanding, but they did not respond to my emails.
Yet, I have used the incident as a point of reflection.
First, why did I raise my voice, and how can I keep a tempered voice during debate from now on? I sought coaching in that regard, and have read a lot about it. I've realized that the times I raise my voice as a teacher are times when I perceive injustice or lack of a proactive, strategic approach which reaches straight for my heart and results in passionate voice. I'm working on couching my volume in debate and making progress.
Next, how can we effectively debate and share our point of view. The blog is a protected place. Like all Americans, I have freedom of speech and opinion so I can take the time to write my points of view with care on the blog. I also use email and face-to-face, when available, to share points of view and have worked at using my voice and listening in more thoughtful, positive, and organized ways. I continue to read and study about this.
Also, I'm reading a lot about love. The truth is that we're all on the learning/teaching path. No one knows it all, and no one is without a thoughtful perspective or experience. Hence we have to be respectful to each other's point of view and work together to effect growth and gain for our students. Good systems for idea share and respect for everyone's ideas and endeavor will forward this effort.
Why share stories of challenge some may ask. The more transparent I am about my strengths and challenges as an educator, the more free I am to move forward and work well with children and colleagues. In the end, it is my goal to do good work and that good work depends on transparent goals, actions, and opinions.
So, learn from me, don't raise your voice in the schoolhouse. Instead seek the consult of trusted companions. Also share with transparency and respect, and use good strategy and care with your voice.
If you've got other ideas with regard to this issue, please share. I'm always learning.