Us or Me and Them

A new skill and responsibility has been added to my plate this month.  I knew it was coming but I didn’t want to acknowledge it.  I am in charge of my Iowa Assessment.  Of course my background was the STAAR test in Texas.  Texas has been using testing for accountability since I was a kid, so there is a large structure of how testing occurs.  The test administrator is 160  pages long and there is building coordinator manual.  I think almost everything that could occur has a written policy.   Contrast that with Iowa, school districts decide when they want to take the Iowa Assessments and the state does not provide as much guidance.  I give you this background so you can understand my mindset.

This past week, I was in charge of presenting training for our upcoming Iowa Assessments.  Everything was organized.  My principal and I brainstormed possible questions that teachers would ask. I was ready to go.  I began presenting.  It was calm and relaxed.  Teachers asked questions some I knew and others I said I would get back to them after I talked to the district person.  We were truly learning together.  Then an e-mail popped up; my computer gave me a warning the battery is very low.  This rattled me and then a teacher asked me a question.   Her question was an obvious one because the answer was on the screen.  Her tone could have been taken as disrespectful.  I responded back in such a way that I “shot her with a dagger.”  The room changed at that point.  The Us left and it became Me and Them.  Luckily for all of us, it was the last two minutes of the PD.  I left the PD feeling disappointed with the whole thing.

As most of my readers know that my principal is awesome, so he provided me feedback by asking me reflective questions.  Simply put I got rattled and the teacher’s question could have been viewed as a snarky question and I bit.  So my next steps:

  1. Prep even better.  The question came from a last minute slide I put in.
  2. Prep my tech -Charge my laptop during the day. Close out of e-mail
  3. Wait time-When feeling rattled and a person asks question, provide some wait time. This may have let someone at her table answer her question.  The wait time will allow me to calm my body.

And here is how we apply what I learned in this experience in a classroom:

The shift from Us to Me and Them that happened on Wednesday changed the climate for learning.  How we respond to a question determines if learning occurs in our classrooms.  I know that I do not want students to experience what I did to that teacher.  As a leader, how I respond to that sort question determines how my teachers will respond to that question in his/her classroom.

Weirdly enough, I spent the previous Sunday morning talking about questions in a #iaedchat and I did the exact opposite of what I said.

So this week, I will respond in such a way that it is obvious that the climate is Us and not me and them.

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