I can’t leave this COMMUNICATION theme without a follow-up to last week and last evening’s learning opportunity. In a meeting this week with one of the same people from last week’s conversation, the ill-advised statement I made was returned in an answer he gave to a question I asked. My concern was reinforced when I asked him if it was from what I said last week and he confirmed that it was. This poorly timed comment had an impact on what he heard and on what he took away from last week’s conversation and it was not the intent or outcome that was intended. Ethan hit it on the head in his comment when he said:
- Unasked for advice, regardless of our relationship with the advisee, is perceived as criticism.
My statement led to the assumption that I was being critical of the listener’s behavior when that was not the case. It was instead an attempt to be more supportive of the initiative being discussed and the person’s important leadership role in the initiative.
Communication is an essential component of my work and as demonstrated above, I find myself continually learning how difficult it is. It seems to be a topic of concern for me with the many difficult issues we are currently facing in our Classroom 10 journey, our continuing struggle with budgets, and in identifying a comprehensive capital improvement package that meets the short and long term housing needs of our school system. It reinforces for me the need for a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that intentionally drive my behavior. I should bring my SPACE tent, my ladder reference, my advocacy/inquiry balance, and my private/public reminder to all my conversations.
Last night I attended a Diversity Forum at Tahoma Junior High and was surprised by the number of students, staff, parents, and community members that were present. My guess would be about 125 people with a representative sample of adults and students. Once again, COMMUNICATION was a critical component of the message that we were given. Young people shared their experiences in our schools; the words and behaviors that adults and their peers use to communicate in ways that are supportive and in ways that are demeaning and critical. We have much to learn and much to do to make our school environments conducive to learning every day, for every child, in every classroom. The committee will take the feedback that was given to identify strategies for continuing this crucial conversation and plans for influencing the culture young people experience in our schools.
Please thank your building’s representative to the Diversity Committee for their effort and support of this work and the board for the direction and focus on eliminating non-academic barriers to student success.