A few years ago, probably six years now, I managed to read Ekhart Tolle’s very dense text on the importance of living in the present moment and dismissing the claims of ego. It was a difficult read and so I would wake up every morning, sit on the balcony of a holiday flat in Queensland (I know – wtf), and read until my friends woke. I would spend the rest of the day thinking about and processing what I had read. I think most of the good advice I have gleaned during my 43 years of existence has emerged from books. No wonder I write to process.
I have experienced a monumental year of professional growth. I have really blossomed in my practice in the classroom, embracing new ideas and strategies, and loving being in my classroom as a result. I have blossomed as a leader in my school. I love the staff I work with closely, in my faculty that I lead, my faculty I teach in, my Literacy Committee, and my network of friends. Most of my school are really good people. And the kids, well it is no secret, I adore them. They are my lifeblood in teaching. Tomorrow I will have finished my 22nd year of public education teaching, and I am so proud.
This last year has been my best. I feel like I have arrived. Finally. Part of that has been my maturing attitude towards conflict and resolving conflict. This will all fit together shortly (I am hoping). I try not to engage with the other person’s emotions but really try to hear what they are feeling and trying to express. I’m not perfect but this strategy has succeeded more than it has failed. And you see a different perspective of contexts as a result. I had several tests today. And after hours of mulling them over, all in the present moment (what a long moment!), I feel the need to be sitting here typing when I should be heading for sleep.
So the tests, hmmm. The one that has impacted me the most has hurt my ego. The ego I try to not engage in these situations. And I am faced with a dilemma. Is it ego to speak to someone who has disrespected you?
I am scared to face them and talk to them about it, and over the last few hours of running different scripts through, the scripts have become significantly more gentle and, I think, less ego-centred. I have moved through blatant anger, “How could they do this to me?!” to “I will make them regret saying it by telling them how wonderful I am” (that’s always a winner – rolling my eyes at myself) to now, “I just want to talk to you about something that happened yesterday and was reported to me by other staff members. I have been told that during my presentation to staff you were seen rolling your eyes to someone else in the room. Is there something in my practice that I need to change?”
I am most comfortable with this. And I am comfortable in just approaching the more senior of the two people. I know I will be bitched about as a result, but my hope is that next time someone is presenting, they may be more sensitive to the audience who may or may not see their behaviours.
No I didn’t see it. But I do believe it happened.
Once upon a time hearing it would have reduced me to tears and raised so many doubts about myself it wouldn’t be funny. But their dislike of me is their issue. They do not know me; they only ever see the portrait of me, my public self. And I am not convinced that I even always like that me. So sitting back and seeing myself through their eyes, I can understand how my passion for Reading to Learn can be misconstrued as arrogance or false hype. They don’t know how excited I get sometimes to just be alive, or at trees, or at moments of honest love. So to them, my excitement for a Literacy and Numeracy program could be misconstrued or misunderstood.
I am also not sure that they are blessed to feel about teaching and our students as passionately as I do. They haven’t been there quite as long or been engaged the same way I have. That’s not to say that my commitment and passion comes from longevity, it doesn’t. There are many teachers in their first year at our school that do feel my passion and enthusiasm in exactly the same way that I do. So really, as I process this, I am starting to feel for them. In my inbox and on my desk have been so many gestures of love and respect, and so I choose to hear those voices.
Unfortunately I can’t drown out the negative completely, but tomorrow I choose to empower myself by confronting with compassion, extending the proverbial olive branch to a supervisor who really should know better.
Much love to you all …