The night before I was to lead my first all staff development (3/7/12) I was up half the night. I didn’t want to be the presenter at the front of the room who looked back at people on their cell phones, people rolling their eyes, and people waiting to argue with everything I said. Don’t get me wrong, discourse is great. If three people in a room all agree, two of them are irrelevant. I get that. But when you are so close to a project and someone hates it, it’s hard not to take it personally.
So there I am, sitting on the couch with my dog, prepping the handouts, going over my notes, texting my friend (@mrsashleyjdavis) about how stressed out I am. She, of course, is being wonderful and reassuring. I, of course, am being ridiculous and not very reassured. All I want is for people to understand how truly important this work is. At this point in my head (which for any of you that know me is its own chaotic mess at any given point in time) I’m playing out one of those scenes from a television show where the kid is day-dreaming about being taunted at school, and at first the insults hit hard, and everyone is more mortifying, and then they all blend together into a horrible, embarrassing blur! Whew!
Side bar - do NOT get me wrong, the people that I work with are WONDERFUL, these are my own neurotic insecurities at play!
So. The blur in my head is making me dizzy as I continue to stress, when all of the sudden somebody hits pause on my mental DVR (because even in my head I hate commercials).
Why not EMBRACE the concerns? When people are concerned or nervous or disagree they just want to be heard! In my head I start listing drawbacks and concerns or fears that teachers might bring to our meeting. I can address all of these.
Now why not take it to the next level? Let’s just put all these fears and concerns on the table. Literally. Each staff member gets a note card. Each person lists a fear or concern. Let’s work TOGETHER on addressing them. Nancy Moval (@nmovall)l, an amazing leader and educator, started the mantra “BETTER TOGETHER IOWA”. Aren’t we all better together? So let’s be “BETTER TOGETHER NEH”. This project isn’t just my baby, this should be OUR baby. I care about this because I put so much time into it. I am invested in it. Now it’s everyone else’s turn to invest in the project.
We have an amazing group of teachers. We can only get better by working together, so that’s what we’ll do. And I’m bringing the students along for the ride - they get to lead 2 of the 3 breakout sessions.
I am different from the presenter who stands in front of a new crowd of teachers for the 15th week in a row. I’m not asking teachers to invest in my theories. I’m asking them to help me - and each other - invest in OUR school. OUR kids. OUR future.