Yesterday I made a crucial mistake.
At first, I didn’t realize it was a mistake and blamed others for the result that damaged my whole day.
Then when I came to my senses after taking a nap for about half an hour, I began to analyze the sequence of events that led to the disaster.
Once more I understood the miraculous power of REFLECTION as I saw that if something went wrong, it would only be because of ME.
Now let me briefly describe what happened.
As a unit head in my institution, one of my responsibilities is to have weekly meetings with the teachers who teach at the level I am responsible for. The point of doing that is to ensure that every member of the unit works in COLLABORATION to FACILITATE students learning as much as possible. Needless to say, the key factor for achieving such a goal is to SHARE ideas, feelings, and practical tips as to how we, teachers, should be acting for everything to function seamlessly.
However, I became aware in yesterday’s meeting that it might not always be easy to create a LEARNING ENVIRONMENT for those in my team because I was opposed harshly when I tried to explain to them my intentions about the content of our weekly meetings.
Every teacher, including even the least experienced, present for the weekly meeting protested against the idea of coming together for sharing and reflecting. Shocked by the reaction, I uselessly spoke words of encouragement and made efforts to justify my point.
Despite all I did, they just said:
1) We are already experienced enough to cope with even the least motivated students.
2) We can already teach even the most complicated points.
3) We are not responsible for the other teachers because we will be all right as long as we can agree with our partners.
4) We do not need to feel like a community.
5) We are tired enough and cannot be worried about each other’s learning.
6) We do not believe that meetings are necessary at all.
I must say I was about cry and I even thought of ending the meeting without saying anything. I had no idea why they were so negative and what I could do to change their mind.
Having thought about it all night, I am now able to see that I started the meeting inefficiently and that caused me to lose control. What I did for the start was to ask them “Do you think it is necessary to meet every week?”, which clearly provoked them to vomit out all the negativity inside them because they had taught between 12-20 hours during the week and they were dying to leave the school to live the rest of the day as would be suitable for a Friday.
If I could go back in time, I would never have such a start for the meeting. Sadly, I cannot do it and the teachers in my unit probably feel that I am not good enough to lead them. What upsets me most is that it is the first time I will be working with those teachers, so I might not have the chance to affect them positively about the possibility of creating a learning environment through meetings.
So, what I am left with for the time being is that I know how I should preside a meeting with all new team members next time:
1) I should make coffee available in the room.
2) I should make some jokes and win those present before starting.
3) I should show some slides and ask them to discuss in pairs or groups the messages the slides have.
4) I should create an opportunity for them to see that they can act as a team by assigning a task and allowing them to complete it collaboratively.
5) I should make the impression on them that they are there to relax and recharge their energy for the following week.
Had I followed the above-mentioned steps, I would not be writing this post now, and I would be certain that my unit meetings would be for the benefit of teachers, thus most importantly for the benefit of students.
Can I still make things good again?
Well, I am really not sure about that, but I will try my best to erase the effect of a grave mistake. After all, I ADMIT I was mistaken, and I have clearly LEARNT a lesson. What remains to be doe is NEVER TO REPEAT that mistake.