Day #18 #SOL17
Our district has had a committee working for two years on an English Language Arts adoption for the district. I’ve noticed with these adoptions that it’s difficult to get concensus when dealing with K-12 curriculum. Our K-5 elementary building has embraced a balanced literacy approach and use the Daily 5 Cafe philosophy. Some staff members are worried that this approach is being threatened by a district adoption. Recommendations are being made and the timeline to choose your resource for the next 10 years is upon us.
In our building, each grade level must get together, decide what resources you need to best support your students and present your thinking at the next staff meeting. Great idea in principal. The staff meeting that followed was… in a word…. unexpected.
The Crazy Clash:
Maybe I should have expected it knowing that our staff is very passionate about teaching all subjects, but especially literacy. It started with the 2nd grade team chomping at the bit and asking to be the first to present. They barely started, when a Kindergarten teacher, that has worked very hard on this committee, interrupted, disagreed, shook her head, threatened to email head of the committee. I mean… whoa, what just happened? I won’t bore you with the rest of this meeting, but let’s just say that when I left, I was shaking and upset. I wasn’t the only one.
As I’m thinking about this very uncharacteristic staff meeting, I’m reminded that we, as a nation, have forgotten how to have a civil discourse. We try to teach our children to respectfully disagree. But do we model this? What are they observing? I shouldn’t leave a staff meeting upset and shaking. I shouldn’t be feeling threatened by ideology and opinions in our country.
Kenneth J. Gergen describes civil discourse as “the language of dispassionate objectivity”, and suggests that it requires respect of the other participants, such as the reader. It neither diminishes the other’s moral worth, nor questions their good judgment; it avoids hostility, direct antagonism, or excessive persuasion; it requires modesty and an appreciation for the other participant’s experiences.
I typically try to keep my posts on the shorter side and more light hearted, however, apparently I really needed to write about this today. Thank you for reading.