Yesterday I heard from a friend who ran into a good challenge with some of the colleagues she works with. My friend is incredibly reflective, and has for years utilized the power of writing to help her consider what she has learned, and what she still wants to learn more about. Writing is a part of her life, and so she readily shares her writing with others.
As a reflective writer, she regularly poses questions and shares details about her experiences. Recently, she had written about some of what she was observing in the classrooms of teachers she works with. A number of teachers saw this writing, and became concerned. They wondered, “Is this writing about me?” And, that likely led them to wonder about the reason they were included in the writing. Even though the commentary was positive, they were likely asking themselves questions like the following:
· Was there something about my practice that needed to be shared with the world?
· Was I doing something wrong?
· Am I comfortable with what I interpret as my classroom being open and transparent to the world-at-large?
· Is the writing actually about me, and does that matter?
These are important questions to ask, and for any number of reasons which go beyond the scope of this post, seem to be asked more often by educators than those in other professions (our practice as educators often primes us to think deeply about ourselves). We always want to make sure that we put our best foot forward, and we often have difficulty differentiating between observations, feedback, coaching, and evaluation. Not to mention, at least in education, we can have difficulty telling the difference between positive feedback and constructive feedback cloaked in positivity (we can thank the “feedback sandwich” approach for this).
The fact that we get so caught up in the surface meaning of writing and ideas that “might” be about us, forces us to miss an incredibly important point:
Any observation of our practice, regardless of how glowing or not, is an opportunity for us to use someone else’ feedback and reflections to make our practice better.