|image from icanread|
You can feel it when you enter. It hangs around you like a fog, enveloping you wherever you go, emphasizing the true nature of the school from your eyes. Climate, and particularly a bad one, surrounds you when you enter into a school and can quickly soak its way into any perception otherwise presented. It doesn’t matter how many smiles you get, if a school is suffering from a lack of community, those smiles will not be able to mask it.
We spend so much time and thought in how we will build the community in our classrooms, perhaps even in our grade level, and yet where is our thought to how we will build community in our school for the staff? At my school, we have new staff every year, and sometimes quite a bit, yet we assume that the community we have created in years past will just flow into the new year and welcome the new staff. What a strange notion! We know as professionals that community must be nourished and preserved throughout the year and that every year we start anew. So why does this not carry over into our staff development? In fact, often in schools we act the opposite of how we expect our students to act.
We ask our students to work in groups, yet often close our own doors during collaboration time.
We ask our students to branch out and meet new people, yet we often stick to the same familiar faces, making it hard for anyone new to feel like they belong.
We ask our students to discuss problems face-to-face, dialogue about issues, and come to an amicable agreement, yet we often speak ill of one another and shy away from conflict or confrontation.
We ask our students to work with new people and not always pick their best friends, yet we sit with those we know at our staff meetings and try to get into each others groups.
We ask our students to trust us as professionals, yet we don’t extend that trust to all of those we work with.
We ask our students to actively listen when we speak, yet we often bring work into meetings or have side conversations when someone speaks.
We ask our students to be up for the challenge, to embrace change, yet we roll our eyes and fight change whenever we can unless we are the ones wanting to do it.
We say this is a bully free zone, yet sometimes the bullies can be found amongst the teachers.
So we must focus on community and not just within our rooms. We must act more like our students.