We were also short a secretary, a librarian, and two custodians. Not having a secretary was especially challenging given that I was new in the school, didn't know the staff or families, or where anything was filed, stored, or kept. Let's just say I learned quickly and painfully through trial and error, guess and check!
When I saw the tweets for #OneWordOnt, I thought, this year it is a no-brainer, my OneWord is "Listen". As I get to know new staff, students and parents, listening has become the single most valuable skill I've needed to draw upon.
It is easy to jump to conclusions, to judge behaviour, to make snap decisions, to form quick impressions when we don't take the time to listen. But listening doesn't just happen. It is not always easy to do. It is a skill, and like any other skill, it needs to be learned, developed and honed. When there is a long list of things waiting to be done, and a crisis occurs - whether it be a parent who is upset, a fight on the playground, a child who has been bullied, or a staff member with an ill family member - it is tempting to quickly "solve" the problem, to say, "do A, B and C" without first taking the time to listen. But being new to the school community, it is so critical to take the time to listen, to get to know the people involved in the issue, to hear every side of the situation, and to learn the context.
Listening means recognizing that behaviour is a form of communication. There are so many great quotes about listening, this is one of my favourites:
Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self. ~ Dean JacksonListening often means letting my ego go, and realizing that I might not have all of the answers, or know the best way of doing things. Listening means learning; I am not learning if I do all of the talking. Listening requires humility. Listening requires an open mind and heart, a readiness to hear the other person's perspective, it requires caring about what the other person is experiencing. Listening means hearing what the other person is saying, and not saying, without planning a response. Listening means caring more about understanding than about being understood.
This year is a year of building relationships. In order to do that, I plan to LISTEN.