One thing I’m quickly learning from my summer reading is that immersion can make all of the difference in how others perceive a lesson or activity. In Learn Like a Pirate, it was all about how the teacher immersed themselves when working with students. In Lead Like a Pirate it’s much the same thing, except with staff and teachers. Whether teacher or principal, those that look to you for guidance know when you’re really involved in the work and when you’re just sitting on the side lines instead.
As a teacher I remember my “off” days. I remember the days where I was ill and came to work sick or when I was having a rough time with a personal issue. I also remember the times I was just “done”. We have those down days. They don’t come often, but when they do, we are not at our best, and we are not immersed in what we’re doing either. Our students and teachers pick up on it. They know when your heart just isn’t into the work you’re doing.
Off days happen to everyone. No one is perfect and no one is “on” all the time, though we may try to be. The problem arises when we are “off” more than we are “on”. Perhaps you remember a teacher from your days who was just there floating on by. May you work with or have worked with some like that. Those teachers are the ones that also tend to have more trouble. Think about administrative staff, too. Have you been lucky enough to have some working right alongside you, or are they just there watching on the sidelines?
Being immersed in our work means getting down and dirty. We’re not just observing what’s going on and providing input. We’re not trying to accomplish other things at the same time. We’re in the middle of the learning, the action, and we’re setting the example for our staff and students that we want to be there by their sides as they make discoveries. We are showing them that we care about what is going on by placing ourselves right in the action as well.
Being immersed also allows us the chance to learn right alongside our students, and to make the adjustments as we go along. We learn more by being involved than by being hands-off. Our students and staff see the difference as well. Yes, we have our boundaries and borders, but does the border gap have to be so huge that it becomes an “US” and “THEM” situation? No. When that occurs, we start positioning ourselves as better than the group we are working with, and that never accomplishes much in the longterm. I would rather have an administrator getting involved in and learning PD alongside staff than one who decides not to attend or that it doesn’t apply.
In terms of myself as an ITRT, I need to begin keeping tabs on myself as I am working with staff during times of professional development. I need to watch for myself staying on the side, instead of being in the thick of things with the learners. I know there are times where I do this, and it’s not okay. I know this, and I definitely realize it now. I have knowledge to share, but that doesn’t make me the better person, or the expert. I am a learner still, too, and that means learning from my staff and the things they can teach me about the topic that we are exploring, together.
If nothing else, I need to make the “US” and “THEM” mentality turn into a “WE” mentality. Separately, barriers create issues and a lack of team, but a “WE” mentality smashes barriers and allows everyone to benefit from each other.