Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trying to Understand

team In Things I Will Never Understand from TJ on a Journey, TJ Shay states,

“Our job is to TEACH and if the learning doesn't take, we reteach. Blame doesn't do anyone any good. Many times, in my career, I have talked to a student and tried to get to the bottom of why they are acting the way they are....if you haven't done it, you would be amazed at what a difference that can make. Failure of a student is often a direct result of failure as a teacher/parent/adult.” And also, When people are clearly wrong, why don't they just say they are, apologize, and move on?”

Reading this made me want to cheer. Here is a teacher who really “gets it”! Too many times I’m in the company of a group of teachers who want to stand around and complain about the students, the parents, the school, the district or the system. Of course there are plenty of non-teachers who hear this too and it is no wonder that they have no faith in our system. I once had a principal who told me that I shouldn’t waste time blaming people and use my time and energy into working to solve the problem. I really have tried to stick to this philosophy and wish others could too.

I also feel that teachers waste too much time being negative about education in general. We need to start being cheerleaders for our profession. We need to stop focusing on the failures of our students and whose fault it is. Instead we need to say that we have this problem and let’s work towards fixing it. Let’s talk about the things that are going right in other schools and see how we can apply them to our own schools. By networking with other schools and looking for good things that are working, maybe we can turn around our own schools. We need to start collaborating with other districts, states, and even countries to find out strategies that are working. If we just keep doing the same things that we know don’t work, how can we expect to see any success? Why don’t we admit that what we are doing isn’t working and move on? Instead people stand around and blame those who pushed for implementation of things that didn’t work but I don’t see how this will help us. Sure, we may try things and they won’t work but we need to keep trying.

TJ also asks, Why is it that in a school district, we are not all on the same team?”

I have seen this too many times in my school. We need to get past the ego trips if we are going to be successful. There was so much competition between teachers and departments that instead of pulling together, we were pulling apart. Part of the reason I feel is that there was not enough communication. Our school was like a small society where rumors abound and some people got information that others didn’t. Of course this made some people feel more powerful than others and they hoarded this information like it was gold. When others see this, they tend to react with fear and don’t think decisions through. I guess it is human nature to act this way but we need to get on the same page. Can you imagine an athletic team playing this way? I can just imagine one of the players getting the ball and hiding it so the other team players can’t see who has it. What chaos that would be!

So, I guess I should stop complaining and look for the positives.

One way to combat the negative talk would be to ask the complainer about how to solve the problem. I think we need to turn the conversations around to more positive notes. Start to talk about solutions and good things we see elsewhere that we could try. If more and more people start doing this, maybe we can break the cycle of negative talk. It may take time but someone has to take the first steps.

As for team building, I believe there needs to be better communication. Of course this needs to come from the top. The leadership needs to keep those in the system better informed. If everyone has the same information, than we can focus on working towards a common goal instead of feeding our own egos.

What do you think? Please share your ideas and comments!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'Circle of friends'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/12142259@N00/2568204738 by: Beat Küng

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