Yet, we do need to make time to support initiatives, efforts, and endeavor that matter.
What engenders our support?
I am thinking about this today as I think of a large number of initiatives that I've been invited to support--initiatives in the educational, family, political, and community realms.
As I think of this, I recognize that I am eager to support initiatives and events that have the following attributes:
- respectful communication and acknowledgement of my time and effort
- shared mission and vision
- lead time and inclusion of the effort's priorities, goals, and process
- mission-driven leadership (rather than ambition-driven leadership)
- a sense of camaraderie and needed time
- welcoming environment and attitudes
- straight-forward communication and easy-to-understand goals, timelines, roles, and expectations
As I think more specifically about this, I am thinking about a number of events that I have not been involved in.
In one instance, time and place has made it difficult for me to attend--the event occurs too close to the end of school and to far away to get there in good time. The event also lasts too long for me to meet my family obligations. It's a great organization with welcoming, committed people and a terrific mission, but, in many ways, the events have been inaccessible to me due to family and work obligations.
In another instance, there is never room for teacher voice or choice. Teachers are not looked at as integral contributors in this organization and often the organization's events do not seem to serve the mission in meaningful ways. I don't want to support efforts where there is no good way to be heard and where the efforts are suspect with regard to the rationale.
In a third instance, it was simply the fact that the good organization and its terrific work was far from my best skill level or passion. I just didn't have the zeal or energy for the extra unpaid work in that realm.
Yet, as I think about the organizations where I am ready and willing to be involved, these are typically organizations or groups that fully support the work of public school teachers--they are there to help out, they value teacher voice and choice, and they contribute to programming and events that substantially uplift what we can do. Lately, the groups I am aligning myself with in this regard tend to be groups closer to the classroom such as my grade-level team and local union.
As one who needs the support and camaraderie of peers and others to do my work well, I need to be cognizant of factors that engender support too, and as I think of that, I have to ask myself the questions below:
- Do I leave room for the voice and choice of the colleagues, students, and families I work with?
- Do I make time to listen and work together to set vision and goals?
- Do I help others meet their goals and vision?
- Do I plan events and meetings at times when people are able to come and in places that are close to their daily work and commutes?
- Am I respectful and cognizant of colleagues' needs when it comes to good communication, collaboration, and care?
We all need support to do the good work possible, and it takes deliberate thought and action to gain that support. This is yet one more critical area of optimal teaching and learning.