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Collaboration and Collegiality

You’re never alone as a teacher – or you shouldn’t be. As sure as night follows day there will be someone who has experienced what you are going through and provided we all adhere to cooperation and transparency, support can be found.

You also have to be acutely aware of what you might be saying about whom and where!

When T was still at school we would often meet for a coffee in town before going home. On one particular occasion we were in Starbucks on Princes St, overlooking the castle. We chose a table near the window and T offered to fetch the drinks, after stretching out her hand for the wherewithal to make this grand gesture. I settled back and enjoyed the quiet busy-ness of those stopping as we were for a change of scene before heading home, preparing for a night shift or meeting friends, colleagues or family for a catch up.

I gradually became aware of the conversation to my left which appeared to be quite scathing about a fellow employer. I didn’t tune in, accepting it was none of my business until one of them mentioned Newbattle High School. Immediately I pricked up my ears as a friend of mine was working there at the time. I’m relieved to say that the conversation did not involve my friend, not surprisingly, but it could so easily have, and whoever they were discussing did not come off favourably.

Mindfulness isn’t just about being in the now, but being aware of your surroundings and the appropriateness of what, or who you might want to chat about.

Perhaps we are all getting too bogged down in the emailed approach to collaboration that we forget how much nicer it is to pick up the phone, or better still, walk a few steps to seek out someone who might be able to help or point us in the direction of someone who can.

I have benefitted over the years just by popping by a colleague’s office, assessing the situation, dipping my toe tentatively into the collegiate water as it were to ascertain if indeed support is available. On occasion the shutters are very firmly down, and I have walked away, but more times than not my colleague is just as relieved as I am to have the opportunity to chat about their concerns and agree a common approach to a particular issue.

Social networking can also be a source of much information and support, so long as it is genuine and well informed. An unreserved lashing of the tongues does no good to nobody and should be avoided at all costs: you just don’t know who is ‘listening’.

Collaboration and Collegiality –  a poem

Ask and you shall receive –

you might not like it or believe

that the message includes you too

but sit back accept it might be true

and take that next step forward.

Share it with another who is awkward

on their own alone and scared

be collegiate and be prepared

to signpost in a profesional way

It just might be you one day.

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