May 26, 2018 by readlisaread
Today’s tale comes directly from a *typical* day at work where communications are all important, and yet can take a wrong, or at least surprising, turn at any moment. We are always busy, but too often we are ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Yesterday was a prime example, and this is how it unfolded.
- Many of the District Leadership team were away, giving presentations, attending meetings, or simply pulled into the vortex of a Friday in May.
- We are still struggling on occasion with a TTOC (teachers teach teaching on call) shortages and on several occasions this year a few of us have been pressed into service (or, as I like to say, re-activated) to cover a classroom teacher’s absence.
- On Friday mornings, the building I work in has a 15 or 20 minute “Stand-Up” staff meeting. An informal, and informative, opportunity to share what we’re working on, district news, upcoming events.
- It was time for our weekly Stand Up, but none of the Leadership team had arrived to lead the meeting. I texted an assistant Superintendent to find out if she was coming over, but she was trying to resolve the day’s TTOC shortage, and so I assured her that we could manage ourselves, and I kicked off the meeting and it all ran smoothly.
- Heading back to my office, I get a text from my boss, also helping with the TTOC situation, asking if I would go cover a Grade 1 class for part of the morning. Which I did, my time with them consisting of colouring, them reading to me, me reading to them, and snack time.
- I return to my office
- The assistant Supe I had texted earlier pops her head in my office to say “Thanks for this morning! Did it go OK?”
- To which I responded: “Oh, it was no problem at all! I read them one of my favourite stories ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, and we had snack, everyone was happy.”
These are the events exactly as they happened. And so I was a little surprised to see a look cross my colleague’s face that was a combination akin to horror, confusion and a glimmer of humour. It was then I realized I had responded to her comment about leading the morning staff meeting rather than the covering the grade one classroom as I had first thought. The flash of perplexed humour was her imagining a room full of adults hearing about the Wild Rumpus, and then having a little snack. I realized my mistake, and then the two of us thought about all the possibilities had I indeed read a story and gave my co-workers snacks instead of a staff meeting, informal though they are.
After we stopped laughing, and the correct responses matched with the proper questions, we went on with the rest of our day. But it occurred to me, how frequently does it happen that we “hear” a different question than the one that was asked, or provide a different answer than the one that was expected? And what if the mis-match is not so ludicrous that it’s hysterically funny, but rather just confusing. And what if the asker/askee doesn’t seek clarification, but rather wanders off confused and disappointed?
The worst-case scenario in my tale could have been that I never get asked to run a staff meeting again, or ….. that we began starting each meeting with a children’s book.
I’m not sure, actually, that I see a flaw there. If only all miscommunications were so delightful.
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