Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Respectful Conversations

The last two days I've been talked to/at with what could be termed as disrespectful conversations. In a way they could be deemed as attacks but I'd rather take the high road and discuss the reasons these conversations are inappropriate always - but certainly in an environment such as the teaching profession.

Now - right before my birthday things usually stir up a bit like this which reinforces my morals, my ideals and my thinking about what is appropriate in my life and more so what I try to remove from my life - mainly negativity and any notion of deficit theorizing.

As someone that grew up learning how to be passive-aggressive as a strategy to deal with everyday conversations at home - it's easy to let the person rage and then just take it, rather than calmly suggest ways to the other person how to deal with the situation, or even, confront the issue head on. For all intents and purposes I try not to create issues. Sometimes though - especially in high-stress, high-emotional areas such as the teaching profession, sometimes precision of language does not occur - and as such - your message can be misconstrued.

As a result of the conversation I was brought into yesterday, I feel undermined and undervalued. Yet am expected to continue doing what I was already doing anyway. As a secondary result - I do not feel like continuing with that particular aspect of extra-curricular activity within the school. Personally I do not like being talked to/at like a child. Yes I am mere weeks from my 27th birthday, and no, I have not been teaching for ten, or 20+ years. But that does not in any way, shape or form mean that I do not have my students' best interests at heart. Nor does it mean that I am unaware of the issues our students face daily. Also, I am pretty quick on the uptake so don't need things reinforced four or five times so I get it. When you whakahē someone, you undermine their understanding, you make them feel worthless and moreover, you make them feel belittled and unimportant as if their feelings and ideas do not matter.

This morning's conversation, which wasn't so much a conversation as a loud reprimand in front of 20+ colleagues about something incredibly trivial as a need to bring a pen to briefing, was even more embarrassing as the discussion then continued as if the reason for the reprimand rested solely on my shoulders and not on all of us for the need to do paperwork - two different issues. It is inappropriate to say such things loudly - a pull-aside talk would have sufficed. However, in my defense - the reason I never bring a pen to briefings is because I write everything on my phone because then I'm not wasting paper as the notices are on Kamar and if I seriously need one - we borrow from each other at our table. Which is never a problem. In the room we were in, there were at least 15 pens I could have borrowed. I was merely waiting until someone had finished so that I could make my selections of the four student leaders I thought were going to lead our house to greatness. At the time of the loud and embarrassing reprimand, I was thinking about who I would choose. Seriously.

It frustrates me that I am now spending my non-contact debriefing myself and trying to deal with these conversations, rather than making the most of my time to do everything else I need to do. Like create new resources for a class I haven't ever taught before, plan lessons for the rest of the day and tomorrow and develop a strong plan on how to deal with certain students in some of my classes. Then, after then I can finally get onto the question marks on Kamar for students that were away on sports trips or that I need to follow up, and on the endless paper trail that could easily be done online.

In all conversations I have I try to be respectful. In conversations where I know it will quickly escalate, I tend to revert to a 14 year old kid trying not to get yelled at, so I sound like a kid. Maybe that's why they treat me that way when talking to me. Maybe I need to assert myself like others have said and tell those who do so to back off and be respectful. Apparently it worked for them.

If I want to proceed in a few career directions I really need to nail this now. Because if I continue to allow people to whakahē me then I will only ever be that weak little mousey kid that couldn't stand up to her bullies.

Respectful conversations require good listening skills and an ability to read others. If you can't do that, at least be nice and make sure you are saying what you are saying clearly and with respect to the other person. If there is something you don't like or need clarification around an issue, then ask. But with respect to the other person. For all you know, you may have heard something that was untrue and asking it in a way that is only going to escalate the situation is not what anyone wants.

Also - the importance of whakawhanaungatanga and the importance of restorative justice. If there is a relationship there - fabulous - use it to your benefit. If you don't know how that person will react to your question or phrasing - then say it in a way that will gauge their reaction - hopefully positively - and also try to de-escalate the situation, before it becomes escalated.

You never know what the person is going through and how certain things can trigger other things - causing a mass overhaul on Blogger because they're overly frustrated and annoyed because they can't fix it.