The other night, in the class I am teaching at Fresno Pacific University, I and my students were all struck by a particular passage in our textbook, "What Connected Educators Do Differently", by Whitaker, Zoul, and Casas.
We reflected on what the authors refer to as "best practices for bringing our best to our job every day". I hope this list challenges and inspires you as much as it did us.
•They bring their best to their organization every day, whatever their best may be that day. They are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact on a child every day.
•They are intentional with their time and make the effort to connect personally with students and staff on a daily basis and then follow up with a quick word or note. They realize that even the smallest gesture of kindness can make all the difference to the person to whom it was extended.
•They are empathetic. They take time to understand, share, and be sensitive to another person’s feelings in order to foster a culture of trust. They recognize that every student and staff member will face some sort of personal and professional challenge at some point in time and they are sensitive to this fact.
•They value mistakes and failure as learning opportunities. When they themselves make a mistake, they own it, apologize, and work to make sure it does not happen again. When they fail, they reflect on the experience as a way to see what they can learn for future attempts.
•They model forgiveness—they are sincere in accepting apologies and moving on. They believe that most people’s intentions are good.
•They understand they will not always see immediate results when working with kids. They are patient and think long term. They do not take things personally. They have figured out that many kids are just testing a system which had failed them long before that particular teacher came into the picture.
•They have high standards for all kids every day. They do not make excuses for kids based on race, socioeconomic class, environment, or poor parenting. They truly believe in all kids all of the time and, more importantly, they love them as though they were their own.
•They acknowledge inappropriate behavior of kids. They understand that by not doing so, they are sending a message that the misbehaving student is not worth their time or that they have given up on them. They have come to learn that if they hesitate to correct poor behavior, they have become part of the problem.
•They bring positive energy every day. They know that complaining and talking negatively about kids, staff, or the work environment without offering a solution says more about them than it does about who or what they are complaining about. They take time to smile and laugh and encourage others to have fun.
These are traits that we hope to exhibit (on our good days!), which have very little to do with technology, a PLN, or anything in the course. However, working on a PLN is all about relationships, and this list is all about relating to each other in a healthy way. It is about healthy relationships, a healthy school site. It is a great list of ways that we can love our neighbor as ourselves, with deep respect... our neighbors being our students, our school-site colleagues, and our PLN-colleagues... ways we can do this with respect for ourselves, as well.
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