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Collaborating with Peers at School

This was a major challenge for me this year. We talk so much in our program about choosing our partnerships carefully and wisely and the school system is a matrix of obligated partnerships in a way that is very different from ASC. Clearly this is part of the job and the expectation is that we work together on the same team but unfortunately the ethics of professional conduct are not upheld in practice and there is all kinds of not cool things that happen daily in schools that lead to a toxic environment when it comes to safe learning spaces and emotional safety.

I learned this year that many times new teachers are given students that no one else wants (this did not necessarily happen to me but I have heard it is true), that they are often asked to do things they should not have to do and will often say yes because of their newness and wanting to prove themselves etc. I learned that many people say they stand for one thing but really very clearly do not and stand for something very different. I learned that you have to stand up for yourself or people will try to walk all over you.

When I began taking a stand for what I thought was right, things started to change. I began asserting my boundaries, not going to lunch time meetings no matter how mandatory and obligatory they were made to seem. (It is in our collective agreement that we do not have to attend lunch time meetings but yet they are called all the time and people are passive aggressively called out for not attending when they technically cannot force us to attend in the first place.) I began saying I was not ok with people putting people down in front of others without talking to them first or leaving if they did not stop. I began leaving committees in which it was blatantly obvious that no new ideas were wanted (even when asked for) and that only compliance and completing tasks were of interest to the committee members in power. I began talking to admin about things instead of relying on advice from teachers who were more interested in comparing themselves to each other than doing the best job they could. I began finding "my people" and developing relationship with them while developing and maintaining healthy boundaries with the people who I did not ideologically align with. I took steps to move away from people, situations and committees who were not serving me and my practice. I questioned what I heard instead of believing what they said at face value and decided what was right for me.

This year was a huge learning curve in this area and while I had many great collaborations with "my people" I also had some very negative experiences which unfortunately overshadowed the positive at some points in the year. This next year I am focusing on maintaining healthy boundaries for myself and building even more positive collaborative partnerships so we can try to build what we want to see in the world instead of focusing on what was not working or going well. I am planning to build on the foundations I started to lay this year and grow even further into collaborations with those I chose to collaborate with and more strategically navigate the politics of the others with a more mindful and informed approach.

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