Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Eating Humble Pie

While nobody looks forward to admitting they were wrong, there are times when eating a steaming dish of humble pie can be good for personal growth.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been in a frustrating situation. I have been in a school, ready to work with teachers and students to get them up and running with iPads, Chromebooks, and GAFE tools from the start of the year. A series of events has delayed the deployment of the devices. Instead of working with students to learn new tools and with teachers to improve the pedagogy of their technology integration, I have spent the last several days entering data into a spreadsheet and checking which students are entitled to receive their devices.

Yesterday, in a cloud of frustration, I lashed out and snapped at one of the individuals making decisions about the deployment. It was unprofessional, and I know better. The deployment is the school's show, they get to drive the bus. Whatever I think of the driving decisions, my job is to ride along, not to be a backseat driver.

The incident left me tied in knots inside. I was still frustrated with the situation and decisions being made, but I was also frustrated with myself for losing my temper. I even skipped lunch because I was afraid that if I went to get it in the staff room, I might say something to someone about the incident and regret it later.  That evening, a colleague listened until I could explain my jumbled thinking and feelings a little more coherently. I am very appreciative of the fact that, not only was she willing to listen, but when I might not have bothered to talk, she prompted me to do it. I still was not sure how to move forward, but at least I wasn't spinning in circles inside my head. 

Finally, I was able to email my boss, explain my frustration, and own the fact that I snapped when I should not have.  We were able to arrange to meet this morning.  In a very short time, she was able to validate my feelings of frustration, remind me of the important aspects of what I am doing that need to be preserved, and point out that I had already owned my actions in my email, but that I needed to have a conversation with the individual in question. I will remember her advice for future incidents (yes, they will certainly happen...): Do it at the end of the day, that way you can cry in the car on the way home if you need to.

Still frustrated, but recognizing the wisdom of having the conversation before things festered, I set up the meeting. I thought about the things I wanted to say and set them aside. I started again with the things I needed to say and how I would say them to be sure they would come across as intended. When I am frustrated, things don't always sound the same out loud as they do in my head - planning is important. 

I went to the meeting and apologized. I admitted that I was wrong and that I needed to go along with the school's decisions. The individual nodded, re-explained the reasons why the decisions were right, and suggested that deployment can never happen sooner or faster in a school this size. I still cannot see the logic behind the reasons, but I remind myself that the intent is to address the needs of the students. I still believe we can do better, but stuck to planting a few seeds for next year.

In the end, I know that I learned about myself in frustration and have had time to consider better reactions in the future. I know that I apologized, even though it was barely acknowledged. I hope that I was able to preserve the relationship with the individual because I am learning how important good relationships are. And very importantly, I know that I am well surrounded by terrific people who are supportive and encouraging and who help me to see the right path, even when it is difficult.

The car ride home?  Well, let's just say that I'm glad it was over an hour so I had plenty of time to reflect. 

There are times when being professional means taking a big bite of that humble pie and smiling through it as thought it is your favourite dish in the world. While you won't exactly enjoy doing it, there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from knowing that you didn't shy away from your portion and, perhaps, you grew a little as a person.


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