Sometimes I wonder how we got here. You know, this place where we’re so hypercritical of one another instead of collaboratively and relentlessly pursuing what matters most. Maybe that’s it, I suppose, that creates a seemingly unnavigable void. The “what matters most” part isn’t as agreed upon as we’d like to think. Perhaps it would be simpler if we just disagreed on how to get there, but when “there” is defined so differently by so many people, well, it gets complicated. Complicated, though, isn’t inherently bad. No, it’s how we handle complicated that matters.
The energy we put into some details is baffling. What day will we start and end the school year, and when will we schedule our breaks? Should professional development days be more frequent small chunks of time, or spread further out with increased length? What materials and/or programs should be adopted to address the curriculum and standards and discipline concerns? When will we (or, more accurately, when will we be allowed to) meet to work together? What rules, policies, and procedures should or shouldn’t be in place? This endless cycle repeats itself until finally confusion turns into submission, and I don’t know whether to spit or go bowling.
Maybe, just maybe, we should be wrestling with some other topics …
* Who are these young people in front of me and colleagues around me? What do I think I know about them, what do I want to know about them, and what would they like me to know about them?
* How will I cultivate a relationship with those I serve and serve with? What do I need to know about myself and them, as well as what do they need to know about themselves and me?
* What am I doing to be responsive to them instead of figuring out how to get them to conform to me, and why does that even matter? Is my hope their hope, or is their hope my hope, or are they entirely different but simply waiting for and needing others to affirm and support?
Eventually, we educators have to connect with the reality that we are in the business of people. So, when we consume ourselves with things that have nothing to do with people, we’re ignoring our job, our calling, our purpose. A healthy debate is wonderfully stimulating, and can serve a valuable purpose. However, let’s take a closer look at what the debates have become about, and let’s take ourselves to task if we’re failing to contribute in any meaningful way to improving our love of people.
This is hard work, folks. But, we can do better. I can do better.