In lieu of all of the wonderful comments on my recent #edchat post, I felt the need to vent some frustrations about the initiative I started with some colleagues a few months back that I blogged about here.
Long story short, I started a Google Group around a school-wide initiative aimed at improving the climate at my school. It started with about 10-15 members that immediately dwindled down to about 5, which is now close to a measly 4. Despite the group messages I send out asking for help or asking for input, I am always met with responses from the same 3-4 people.
I held a meeting today. I announced the meeting last Friday, it was in our “Daily Gram” posted at the front counter. I was out sick for two days and came in JUST to be at this meeting.
2 people came.
We were supposed to be hashing out a schedule to bring the School Store (part of the incentive program) around to the classrooms since our previous schedule had been turned on its head by newly mandated blocks of scripted teaching and a change in the grade group meeting times.
Instead, I found myself frustrated and hopeless. I was close to giving up completely. “We can’t do this alone! People want these things to happen, but they don’t want to help!”
I thought about some of the comments (including my own reflections) on my #edchat post. Many people expressed how refreshing it was to hold meaningful conversation about relevant topics or how comforting it was to hear that others were also experiencing what they were living in their classrooms from day to day.
#edchat has become a community. A virtual community many of whose members have never met face to face.
This is what is missing in my building. Conversation, connections, community. The 3 or 4 colleagues who have helped make this initiative happen are like my #edchat community. They enjoy collaboration and sharing of ideas, they are open to new things and seem to thrive on it just like I do. But 4 people out of 45 is not a functional community.
I started realizing that being a principal could be a really hard job. How do you unite your staff and motivate them to take on leadership roles if they are not intrinsically motivated to do so?
It also made me realize how important it is for a school to be able to choose its staff members. Teachers need to work as a team. They need to come to a school prepared for a give and take process. This means discussion, time and collaboration together. They need to come to school with a common vision, purpose and dedication to a set of ideals.
My #edchat community incarnate.
I’m at a point where I don’t have the patience for apathy anymore. Now that I’ve come across so many passionate people with so much energy to collaborate, reflect and discuss it’s hard for me to tolerate anything else. The teachers will call me in my room: “When is the store coming? It didn’t come to me today.” But when I ask for volunteers or ideas or feedback, I’m met with silence.
I was close to saying “Let’s just close the store.” Well, actually, I did say it. My colleagues reminded me that the initiative was for the kids, despite the fact that the adults were letting them down. We as a committee had made a commitment to the kids, and it was important that we didn’t let them down.
We finally decided to create a sign out sheet for the teachers so they could sign out the cart of goodies when it was a good time for them. We as a committee will be responsible for stocking the store, keeping it neat and making it available. We have shifted the responsibility from us to the teachers in hopes that they will take more ownership of the initiative (and in hopes that their students will pressure them to bring the store around!).
I would hate to see this initiative fail, as we put so much time and effort into it and it was successful for a few months.
Now I am faced with the fact that I’m frustrated with my own colleagues and feel unsupported. What do we do when we feel this way in our own building? (Aside from running to Twitter every Tuesday night at 7pm?) Does this mean it’s really time for me to move on, to find a new community that is more connected and willing to take risks? What do I do if such an opportunity doesn’t arise?