Together Everyone Achieves More

I am typically in an aisle seat when flying. The more I fly the more I notice how picky people are when it comes to their seats.  Every now and again I get asked if I would be willing to move my seat to accommodate a family member who, for whatever reasons, were reserved elsewhere on the plane. This particular week a mother asked me if I would move to her seat a few rows in front so that she could sit with her daughter. Was this a slight inconvenience for me? I suppose it was a little bit as my carry on bag would be farther back on the plane. However, I didn’t think twice about my decision. Not only was it the right thing to do, but also if the roles were reversed I would want someone to do the same for me.

It amazes me though how often I see this same situation unfold in the opposite way.  For reasons that make no sense to me, there are people who refuse to change seats. Not only do they refuse, but also they are not very respectful in the way that they respond. “I paid for this extra legroom seat so why should I give it up? I can only sit on the end seat. I will miss my connection.” Instead of embracing common courtesy, the situation morphs into a personal issue of inconvenience.  The end result is sometimes a road rage reaction, but in the air.

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It is a shame that we see situations like this unfold in our daily lives. Reactions like this also extend into our professional and personal relationships.  It is easy to let our emotions get the better of us when we disagree on issues, ideas, methodologies, and opinions.  That’s human nature for you. The problem arises though when a professional disagreement is made into a personal issue.  Using the airplane seat example, it really comes down to reacting to discomfort or disagreement in a way that our treatment of others is a reflection of how we ourselves would want to be treated.  

“When we take things personally, it is difficult to see the good in people. Positive discourse is what humanity needs and deserves.”

We must resist the subconscious urge to berate and belittle others just because we don’t see eye to eye. Politics this year have become a very divisive subject for many of my friends and colleagues.  I have seen countless examples of one’s views being taken personally and out of context. Verbal battles are then waged and friendships severed.  Is this the type of discourse we want to model for our students? The same can be said about idea sharing on social media.  The same behaviors and results listed above rear their ugly heads.  There is no ownership of an idea and just because you don’t agree with someone’s position doesn’t make it right or wrong from both points of view.  Yet battles ensue as to the validity and value of ideas and positions.  In some cases critical dialogue occurs, but from my view this is typically the exception.

We are not in competition with one another. It is important to always remember that even though we might disagree on a professional level, this should not lead to an erosion of personal relationships. Everyone is entitled to his or her view. As human beings we are also entitled to making mistakes.  It takes a secure person to not only admit his or her mistakes, but to also help others in a proactive fashion when they make their own. Treat others how you expect (and deserve) to be treated yourself both in face-to-face and online situations.  

As we continue to build, nurture, and repair relationships at both professional and personal levels it is vital to always remember the good in people, no matter how difficult it might be at times.  If we expect this of our students then we must expect the same for ourselves.  Technology has allowed us to grow a global team of committed educators to take on the man challenges we are face with in education. Let’s seize this opportunity before us. Modeling the best in humanity in both digital and non-digital spaces will help to bring about the change we all wish to see in education.

Source: A Principal’s Reflections

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