The importance of meeting on common ground
,Steve Jobs once said that he never listened to experts as all they did was offer opinions. And opinions are just that....opinions. Some are more worthy of consideration and others aren't. Ultimately it's up to people to make their own choices in regards to the action that they take in their lives both personally and professionally.
Though I've been teaching and coaching almost two decades now, there are times I feel like I'm back at square one as everything changes so quickly. Despite running workshops and consulting, I make it very clear that I am not a guru of anything nor an expert when it comes to education. However, what I do well is to get educators thinking about what they do and why they do it. I consider myself a lifelong learner who consistently tries to tackle each day, making sense of my profession and sharing my passion for learning with both teachers who I work with and students who I am lucky enough to teach. As far as I'm concerned, life is a blessing and being able to make a difference to others even more so.
The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with important observations that I've made over the years as a teacher, but also as a workshop facilitator and consultant. Take it for what it's worth to you. Dismiss it entirely or reflect on whether or not anything resonates with you. It's as much for me as it is for you and is a mere collection of my thoughts when it comes to schools and the educators that work within the walls of those institutions.
I'm all about schools moving forward and believe so strongly in the vision that many of these institutions of learning hold in regards to creating an environment where all stakeholders can thrive and strive for personal and professional excellence.
As you read my observations and ideas below, think about the perspectives and stances that you currently hold within your role as an educator, whatever that may be.
Here we go.......
I believe with all of my heart that both teachers and administrators have the noblest of intentions when it comes to student learning and moving schools forward. Collectively, there is a powerful vision there that is all about making a difference. Although everyone wants to do their best, often times it’s split opinions and stances that can impede the path forward. Yes, differing opinions help to bring value and perspective, but if there is not a climate and culture of healthily challenging one another, massive obstacles lie in place which impede progress and growth.
It is imperative to assume that everyone has the best of intentions and to agree to meet on common ground with these intentions, viewpoints, and differing ideas. We must be willing to shift the stances that we hold and truly listen to one another’s perspectives with empathetic ears and focused eyes. Only then can we better understand one another and the skills, talents, abilities, and prior experiences that we all bring to the table.
Showing a willingness to shift our stances and getting ourselves unstuck from potentially entrenched ideas and beliefs that we’ve held models the core values that all great learning institutions wrap themselves in. It's living and breathing the following values that truly helps to springboard schools forward. It’s not just talking the talk, it’s pounding the pavement in an effort to walk the walk and to demonstrate these values as part of daily living.
Regardless of the roles that we play in education, it is critical to evaluate our own stances and to continually reflect on our actions. Do our actions, words, and thoughts help to move our schools forward and empower all those within its walls? Even in the most frustrating of situations lies tremendous opportunity to learn, to grow, and to deepen our understanding about what it means to be an educator and about life in general.
I think that every great school has respectful relationships that operate inside of it. Relationships built and nurtured on the foundation of trust, open-mindedness, acceptance of candor, warmth, support, and mentoring. When I think of leaders, I don’t think of administrators or teachers, I think of both. Every single person within a learning institution has the ability to step up and lead by example.
To me the picture below represents just that. I didn't create the visual, someone else did, but whoever did was spot on about what leadership really means. An ability to inspire others around you to take action and contribute equally to push forward the shared vision of excellence that all schools should represent.
And ultimately who are the greatest winners in it all? YES indeed, you guessed it............ the students who pass through our hallways.
Thanks for reading.