Sunday, June 17, 2018

Stumbling Blocks: Lots of Learning

There were a number of stumbling blocks in the past week or so--all of these hurdles created havoc, and now after a restful day of watching my family compete in a beachside triathlon and enjoy a family cook-out, I'm relaxed and ready to think about what happened.

The first stumbling block had to do with supervision. There was a big event and I anticipated a need for greater supervision given the parameters of the event. As I think about this need, I am reminded that we all have to think carefully about big events and the kinds of supervision needed. Educators, administrators, parents, and other staff need to speak up and work ahead to make sure we have the supervision we need to make big and important events successful. By the way, during the event I mention, we did end up having terrific supervision and support.

The next stumbling block had to do with confusion over expectations. An expected expectation created havoc. I'm still not sure why I missed the expectation, but I know that I wasn't alone as many educators didn't understand this. The problem for me was greater as we had booked our schedule tightly with some new events that required a lot of energy and attention and to add one more expectation on top of this felt like that block that topples the Jenga Tower. In the end, it all worked out, but the results were not nearly as good as if we had planned for this expectation with care. Hopefully we learned a good lesson and will add the dates for expectations like this to calendars at the start of the year so that everyone knows what's ahead and can plan accordingly.

The third hurdle had to do with an event that affects many, but did not include those affected throughout the process. It's true that the initiative was introduced, however, as it took shape, the steps ahead were more exclusive than inclusive. Finally at the initiative's end, there were many surprises, and some of those surprises were not positive. As I think more about this, I recognize that it's important to include the whole team all along the way in initiatives that affect all of us. Often when we think and act together, we help each other to achieve the best possible results in sensitive and respectful ways.

The fourth obstacle had to do with communication that felt like rocks catapulted forward--the words which I believe rose from frustration were strong and hurtful rather than targeted, helpful, and supportive. A good lesson for all of us who receive hurtful words like this is that those words develop our empathy and respect for kind communication and collaborative problem solving and care. Strong words leave memorable marks on our psyches and can create great divides with regard to our ability to team and work together for great effect. Similar to most people, I have been on both sides of this situation in my life.

As I thought about all of these stumbling blocks, I have to remind myself that nothing is perfect. Life is full of hurdles, problems, and obstacles. And if we can see the promise in the problems, we can use these events to do better and develop with greater success.

I hope that I can coach myself forward to not be as sensitive as each and every problem in life arises. Rather than worry, blame, and struggle, I want to build that resiliency to say to myself, no matter how challenging this problem is, there is a promise at its core. Then I want to work with others with compassion and respect to dissect the problem with words such as these:
  • From my point of view, this situation presents the following problem. . . . .
  • This is problematic because. . . . .
  • There is a promise in this problem which is that we have to . . . . . .
  • We will use this problem as a stepping stone to betterment in the future.
The first step to solving problems is to acknowledge that problems occur and rather than blame, point fingers, or degrade, instead embrace the problem with those involved and seek an honorable, honest and truthful resolve.

It's been a big week of learning--a week that will lead to better work in the future and a better-than-ever-end of the school year. Onward.