Professional Discourse

So again I had to really think if I was going to put this out there. Sometimes writing things out allows me to let it go. It also allows me to reflect and grow. My amazing colleague and friend Kristen taught me about professional discourse. Basically, it boils down to being able to have conversations with colleagues about teaching and learning in a professional manner. Meaning that we don’t have to agree about the others perspective, but we respect their stance.

So last week a small group of us got into a conversation about how we were teaching our students to write a SMART goal. Based on what two of us had observed, the students were struggling to take the individual parts of a SMART goal and condense into one sentence, two maximum. This conversation went all the way left and I don’t even know how! Her stance was they should be able to do the task with little guidance after using the resource we provided. Additionally, if they couldn’t do it, they needed to consult the English teacher. What I observed, was they couldn’t complete the task. There was a long back and forth between myself and the colleague. I also didn’t believe they should go to someone else for help; that’s my job to guide them through my assignment since I gave it them.

Now, I am clear that we all have different backgrounds and teaching experiences. While I use my experience, I have to be open that maybe what I expected in one setting just doesn’t work in another. I’ve actually learned that a couple of times over since arriving here. I felt what I would consider very passionate about the subject at hand, but never to the point of disrespect. My colleague proceeded to tell me that she felt as though I was angry with her and yelling. I was caught all the way off guard. I’m sure I did a double take and looked at her sideways. I immediately apologized, sharing that I was sorry if the delivery of my message hurt her as that was not the intent. I followed it up again with if she perceived it in a negative manner I was sorry. Her stance was hers, but mine was mine as well. I was committed to guiding the students as they will have to complete SMART goals all year. She just walked out of the office. I was completely shocked. I thought we were having a professional conversation. 

I have to sit next to this person in daily basis that feels as though I was angrily delivering a message and that wasn’t the intent. I’ve had to deal with some pretty interesting conversations with teachers, students and parents throughout my career. Never have I had someone react to me in this manner in my 14 years of working in education. That’s not even my demeanor. In all truthfulness, it has really put “a nasty taste” in my mouth for this person. 

My question is how do you deal with colleagues that disagree with your stance or feel as though you have hurt their feelings? 

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