Oh, Thanksgiving. Time for all those F’s we love: Food, football
and...family. Okay, some of those things we love more than others. I have had many discussions over
the years with one of my fellow educators about people; people that we
enjoy and those we don’t. Recently, we started talking about the way we
perceive people with whom we work and how that affects the way we
interact with them and the impact it has on the culture of a building.
It’s a fact, no matter where you go, there’s going to be someone who is,
shall we say, difficult. This is true when it comes to your family and
your co-workers. Some people are hard to work with. Some are hard to
get along with.
I’m not going to go all touchy-feely, and say, let’s all love each other and get along...that’s not my style. At all.
There is always going to be a principal who wants to push the “Family
agenda” at school and try to convince everyone that the sense of
community and caring are so strong the building just radiates with a
glow of love and happiness.
I just can’t go there. But, are we, as teachers and colleagues, a family? Yes, I believe, we actually are.
What is a family, really? It’s a bunch of people you got stuck with.
Some of them you love. Some of them you want to push off a steep
incline. And chances are, that’s how you feel about the people you work
with. Some of them make your day brighter, some of them you hope will
get beaned on the head with a ceiling tile and be out for the rest of
And while a family has the lovable members and the black sheep, the
important thing is...everyone in that family is a uniquely talented
individual. And THAT is what I care about.
Think about your best friend or the colleague you consider yourself
closest to. You probably have a lot in common, but there are most
likely ways you are polar opposites. You might be similar in many
respects, but in others, you’re everything the other person isn’t and
vice versa. Those kinds of differences are what is going to make the
place you work fantastic.
Everyone in education should have two things in common – a love of
education and a desire to impact lives. If you don’t wake up in the
morning and WANT to change a child’s life for the better, it’s time to
retire or find a new job. If we can agree on those things, we’re off to a
good start because we’re all coming from the same place.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Everybody got their something.” Bad
grammar aside, Nikka Costa was on to a great idea. Everyone is amazing
at something or several somethings and I think everyone should be given
the opportunity to show those talents. Working together helps cover our
weaknesses because what someone is not-so-stellar at doing, someone
else is a master.
Do this sound idealistic? Of course it does. But I believe every
school year - or, let’s go crazy here, every DAY is a new beginning and
another chance to refresh ourselves personally and professionally.
There will always be someone that you work with that you just do not
like; it might be an administrator or the miserable guy down the hall
who never has anything positive to say. But I think you have to believe
that somewhere – deep down (maybe so deep it’s hard to find) – there is
something in that person that makes them remarkable and has the
ability to make a difference in a students’ life.
This Thursday, as you sit across the table from that odd relative
bulldozing through their turkey and you’re wondering how you could
possibly be related to them, remember, they’re one of the ones you got
stuck with...by luck, by chance, by divine intervention, however you
choose to see it.
And, next time you see that person in the hall that you would normally
try to avoid talking to, smile and say ‘hi’ to them. Wonder, even if
it’s for just a second, why they are where they are? What made them
decide to teach? Because they’re one of the ones you got stuck
with...by luck, by chance, or because the HR person was having a lapse
in judgment the day they were hired...and make the best of it.
Gandhi said to “be the change you wish to see in the world”, so if we
can try to change the way we see people, maybe others will give us a
reason to see them differently.
*Tonya Thompson is my friend, my colleague, and a Library Media Specialist at Seckman High School in Imperial, MO.