I often share a story about a situation that could have gone pretty bad, but because of the leadership of one student, it turned around. Here is the story below:
From this experience, I learned the following:
Now I get challenged on this quote often, as I should, that challenging each other should not be looked at as a bad practice. I 100% agree with this statement. Iron sharpens iron, and if we just agree on everything, we will never move forward.
But do we challenge people to “take them down” or to help them out? When egos get in the way, is the “challenge” more about proving who is right and wrong, or is it about finding solutions together to move forward?
Have you ever had a situation in your life that the only time you hear from someone is when they tell you that you are wrong? Without building that relationship, the intent might be positive, but personally, I will tune that person out as I need to worry about my mental well-being.
Education is a tough profession, that is often under attack from many outside sources. But when we critique without building those relationships, it feels you are being attacked within. This also includes how we interact online with other educators as well, maybe even more so.
If people know that the challenge is coming from a place of support, they are way more likely to listen.
A Canadian company, Bell, has a single day event focused on promoting mental health, called “Let’s Talk”, to destigmatize the negative perceptions of mental health issues. One of the tweets that I saw that day has resonated in my head and heart. It stated (paraphrasing), “we spend this one day talking about the importance of mental health, but then spend the other 364 days attacking one another.” That struck me and reminded me that when we don’t know how someone is on the other side of the screen, it is also your best bet to err on the side of positive. You never know when someone is struggling.
Challenge is a good thing, but build those relationships with your colleagues, online and offline, that show when you challenge their ideas, that you are are doing it to help them get better, not to prove you are better.
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