Inclusive education: why am i struggling? 3 things you can start doing today to change the way you collaborate
It has been a while since I last posted. Between school holidays, report cards, and my own studies, I have not had much time to think- let alone write. I went away with my family- the first ever as family of 5 (0r 4) and it was awesome!!! Needless to say, I cannot complain about stepping back from My Inclusive Classroom for a few weeks. How was your break? If you did not just have spring break, hope all is well! WE ARE IN THE FINAL CRUNCH OF THE SCHOOL YEAR- this is exciting for everyone: parents, teachers, and the kiddos!!!!
My family time away came at a crucial time in my professional practice- I needed a break. I was at my breaking point- work was no longer fun. I was focusing on the negative- mainly staff interactions. I felt as if the team was falling apart at the seams. I will admit I never go in the staff room (except on treat day). I stay out of that space because it is my experience that that place is often ridden with negativity and inappropriate work conversations. BUT, before the break, I felt the negative vibes everywhere- you know the kind that seep into your muscles and tense you right up!!! URGHHHH
Negative conversations were happening everywhere, so it seemed. My head space became cloudy, yet it was on overdrive, I was zonked, yet full of anxiousness, and I was completely unproductive- even with organizers and checklists! For many of us, teacher or not, this is not uncommon: when one part of your life is consumed by 'badness' the other areas suffer. The feeling of things falling out-of-control or out-of-whack is awful. The what-ifs, the whys, and the worst cases take over. The rational starts to fade. Do you know what I am talking about?
I have worked with enough teachers to know that 'staff room' chatter can often lead to sentiments of negativity and inappropriate conversations. Pushing that aside, negative energy zaps productivity- it robs us of our ability to think clearly, effectively, and with intention. School teams are not exempt from this- in fact, for many school teams the opposite is true.
Needless to say, for me my break came at the right time- remove me from a situation out of my control. Despite being on holidays, I did take a few minutes to think while I skied down the slopes. Rather than focusing on 'he said-she said' or individuals, I focused on three questions:
What is really bothering me right now?
Why is it bothering me?
What can I do differently?
Reflecting on the first question, what is really bothering me right now, was an easy answer: the negative energy has affected me personally and professionally. In this situation, I am not able to be the best me or the me I want to be.
Why does it bother me? I don't know about you, but I always aim to put my best foot forward. I want to be seen as someone who works hard, who is effective, and still has a life outside of work. I am bothered because I am letting other people control how I am feeling and how I am acting. Conversations that do not concern me (or anyone) are affecting how I am doing my job, how I am thinking, and how I am acting. I am 'stressed' because of the negative air- not from the paper work, the kiddos, or the laundry, but from the 'staff room banter'.
What can I do differently? This is the challenging part about working on any team. You cannot stop the talk, you cannot control the actions of others, and you cannot stop people from acting how they want to act. However, when you are a part of a team, like a school team, you need to remain focused on a common goal, like student success, and maintain effective collaboration. Despite not being able to control others, I am a part of a team and I need to support my team through our struggles- so I come back to the question 'what can I do differently?".
I realized there are things out of my control, but there are many things that I can do to help get our team back on track (once our holidays ended):
My professional goal for the next three months is to remain focused on my students and to not let the nonsense get to my head (and muscles). I hit my breaking point before the break. I know I cannot control other people, but I can control me.
It is time to pull out my trusty goal tracker and make sure I am on track... or evaluate how to get back on track!