I had a really courageous conversation last month. In the context of this work, you think that you’re ready to jump into those. They’re certainly easy(lol) when the subject is helping other people see their stuff. But, I went in to fix my stuff.
I’m in charge of a team, like a for real team where I am for real I’m charge and evaluate the other members. This is first time for me. I started to sense that something was off with us the last few months, and after checking in with the two, I realized that my leadership (or rather, lack thereof) was a big reason why.
So I called a meeting where we went through some questions from Community Tampa Bay. The twelve questions are called “Dialogue Questions for Workplace Teams” and include questions like “what makes you feel included as part of a team?” and “What are some of your pet peeves of yours when working on a team?” Using Nearpod’s discussion activity, I put each question on its own slide. We’d type out our responses, read each other’s responses, and in many cases, I asked for clarifications so that we could make sure it wasn’t an issue moving forward.
While it brought out a lot, particularly personality differences and quirks, I learned that I haven’t been a leader to them, like at all. The main issue is that my communication has been poor. My first year in this position it was just me, then the district hired two staff developers to go into classrooms and try to bridge the theory that I train into practice. But to be honest, I didn’t really change much about how I worked even though I now had a team. This was evident because the questions they answered had to do with our unit, and all my responses had to do with working as a part of district committees.
I learned a lot. A lot. A lot. A lot.
One of the questions was “When you receive constructive feedback, what tends to be your primary emotions or reactions?” I said that I am sometimes defensive at first, but then after reflection, can make some change. That being said, I did request that they call me out in real time next school year because I can (and have to) handle it.
I don’t know if we fixed everything, but hopefully we move more cohesively next school year after the conversation. I’m including the questions here because I wish I had used them before we started to work together. As equity leaders, I don’t think we have the privilege to get culture and belonging wrong. We have to always, always remember to try to walk in the ways we are asking teachers, administrators, and district leaders to walk.
So while it was a challenge to hear, it’s not about my ego; there are too many babies on the line.