I finished working with a group of teachers and administrators in Washington this week after several months of going to visit them every two weeks. We talked about teaching, in general. We talked about trust. We talked about engaging students in the learning. We talked about talking about teaching. And the day came this week that is my final day with them, at least until spring or maybe next year. To say I will miss them is an understatement. They made me laugh, they brought me joy and they taught me as much, if not more, than I ever could teach them. For that, I am so very grateful. To put it succinctly, we bonded over PD.
So, relationships and communication are the two pieces for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving season. Both impact the other one. Good relationships with colleagues (new and "old") fuel good communication and the opposite is true, as well.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I would love for you to share with me whatever it is for which you are most grateful in your life. And, in return, I want to share one of my favorite videos with you that I share with workshop participants. It's all about The Power of Words.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!!
Why teaming is so important
Dave and I are going to Hawaii next week for my 50th birthday. The first time we ever went, we heard Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole’s version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” combined with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”. It is so beautifully done and a perfect combination of two incredibly poignant songs. In preparation for our trip, we were listening to the song today, and I thought about how each song contributes a perfect complement to the other.
Thinking about that reminded me of how teams, departments, or grade levels often work in some schools and not in others. I have seen grade level mates come together several times a day just to check in “is everyone okay?” and then come together formally once a week to do lesson planning together, even if they aren’t teaching the same thing! Why? Relationships, I believe, are the reason. They have formed relationships that thrive in a time of strife, frustration and disgruntled feelings about the education world. Having partners in whom you can trust makes all the difference in the world. I’ve watched it happen, so I know it isn’t stuff of which fairy tales are made. I have also seen and heard about teams who try and try to work together but one or two folks simply cause too much friction in the group. In Israel’s song, it would be like singing flat in some parts or sharp in others. The clashing simply doesn’t make for good working conditions.
What makes the difference? I hold a pretty firm belief that relationships and communication make all the difference in the world. What keeps a team from working well? Holding grudges, silence, martyrdom, and resentments. So, what to do? I suggest three things:
Just for today, perhaps it might be time to examine your relationships with your peers and think of one thing you can do this week to build relationships. Great relationships don’t just happen somewhere over the rainbow. They can happen on your team in your school.
We Rescue Labs---what’s your superpower?
We had the blessing of being visited yesterday by a couple who adopted one of our foster Labs. Buddy came to us last February while Dave was recovering from his foot surgery (if anyone is counting, we had one heck of an interesting year). Buddy came with a cone on his head, as he had major ear infections and had just been neutered. As he banged his way through the house meeting our girls, we took him outside to see where to do his business and his cone caught on the concrete and he promptly fell in the pool. That pretty much sums up the beginning of our couple of weeks with Buddy, but I also want to say that as a previous teacher of students with Emotional Disturbances who did pretty well at my job most days, Buddy gave me a run for my money. He growled when we tried to put medicine on his ears or on his privates. (Dave says “I would too”). He growled when you tried to take a treat away from him. This guy was a wounded soul. Many of those behaviors we progressed through during his stay with us, but we were obviously hesitant when a slightly elderly couple asked to meet Buddy.
“What if he bites them?” we asked each other. “What if he knocks them over?” we queried. But the visit day came and Bob and Theresa walked in this house, sat on the floor next to Buddy and he curled up on Theresa and they hugged and loved for over an hour. We knew it was a match made in Heaven, truly. I won’t try to sugarcoat this story by not telling you they had to take him to obedience training, but this guy we saw yesterday was not the same dog we had seen nine months ago. He was more self-assured, and kissed and kissed my face. I guess he remembers.
Bob and Theresa told us they took Buddy on a cross-country road trip two months after the adoption. They explained he was always a perfect gentleman in the hotel rooms and loved seeing all the parts of the country. As a person who drives a good bit for work, I tend to look for the quickest route. How long can I stay on I-10? Bob and Theresa are the polar opposite. They told us tales of their adventures because they always take the backroads wherever they go. “You can see so much more of the countryside when you get on those little roads and stop in the country stores in small towns.” They said people always come up to them when they are walking Buddy around these small towns and say what a beautiful and well-behaved dog he is.
They have found the love of their life with Buddy and I believe he knows exactly where his home is. He knows his place (even when he weighs in at 120 pounds) is in the recliner with Bob for afternoon nap. I love that.
If you haven’t ever heard James Taylor sing “Home By Another Way” take a listen and see if you don’t feel an urge to do something different. I know I do.
Perhaps Bob and Theresa have it all right: