Getting Along

"What the heck has Beth all riled up?" I growled to a dear friend, who happened to be a 2nd grade teacher where I taught 3rd grade bilingual in East Texas. "Did you hear how she cut us off at the knees?" We both watched the blonde-haired 40 year old heading down the hall, her trim figure headed straight for the principal's office. I don't even remember what the discussion was about today, but I remember what my friend told me.
"You know," spoke the folksy, small town, worldy-wise voice Nancy used, "sometimes it takes everything people have to just make it to work. We don't know what she's going through so we'll let her settle down."
Sure enough, the issue defused itself over time, and Beth regained her composure, even apologizing for her earlier behavior. Still, I haven't forgotten the shock my 20-something year old self had at a middle-aged woman losing her temper over work. As I've gotten older, begun to suffer some of my own aches and pains, emotional trials, I realize now what valuable advice Nancy shared that day. Experience and time only deepen my appreciation of the wisdom delivered in her laconic style. 
It all came back to me when I read Joe's blog entryEveryone is always going through something:
Whether one of our staff members loses a friend or family member, a pet, their child is sick or must have surgery, working at school that day is oftentimes not their number one priority. Many say that coming to work when something horrific is happening in life is easier because of the distraction, which might be true – but we’re all human and we need to check in on each other. Principals must have a finger on the pulse of their staffs, student and families. Teachers must do the same for their colleagues, students and families. If your school truly invests in relationships then you are encouraged to seek support, personally and professionally and “it’s OK to be human.”  
The day to day work of being an educator is tough, and the lines between work life and home life are often blurred. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Set goals for yourself and your school to discuss when your staff returns in a few weeks. We need to be stubborn in creating a culture that will withstand the toughest of times. They are inevitable.
Getting along...I read sometime in the last week or so that "culture trumps innovation." Or, as my team mates in one workplace said, "Crazy trumps _____" where you fill in the blank, which would be whatever the latest innovation was. It underscores the importance of culture building, of ensuring people do feel safe in sharing. As much as I think I know or understand, I remain a humble student.

Maybe, that's OK for now.


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