Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Difficult Side of Building Relationships

One of the things that Chets Creek is known for is its collaboration. It's not that we just started with a group of teachers who amazingly liked each other and who shared common goals! From the very first day the doors opened, the leadership intentionally worked on school culture and built a collaborative environment one brick at a time. It's also not like the hard work was done early and so now we just coast - always hiring all the right people and putting each one on the right grade level so we all live happily every after! Some have the perception that we all just get along and work together seamlessly! Oh that life were so easy!

Although we are very intentional about the interview process and are very particular about the people that we hire (after all we want them to be as happy with us as we want to be with them), we do look for diversity in style, talent and experience. We would never grow if we all came with the same set of skills. I think what we have figured out over time is that teams that work well together don't just happen and aren't always just magically compatible. It takes WORK and the key ingredient is finding people who are honestly willing to do the work and who understand that building relationships is the foundation!  It's really not about the age or experience or degree or any of the things you might think are the most important.

In fact it is the story of this year's Kindergarten Team. This is a highly talented group of 13 women! They each came with their own talents and strengths but it was not love at first sight for this group. Some of this team had worked together before - cliquish? Not exactly... They perceived themselves as a well oiled machine who easily shared responsibility. They were used to jumping in, getting right to work, and getting it done. They had built a mutual trust and respect for each other. They had accomplished amazing things together. Add to that some new players - a mix of interesting personalities, budding leaders, both perfectionists and those with laid back styles. Most came from other grade levels and experiences. Most had had great experiences in the past and felt they had lots to offer to this group, but really floundered to find their place in this unusual mix of teammates. As rumors swirled about a split team, drama and discontent, this group could have turned on itself and imploded, but instead they honestly addressed their concerns and frustrations. They decided to build rather than destroy. Last night those that were available got together over good food - laughed, played games, and just enjoyed being together. Some came early before other engagements. Some had to leave early because of other commitments, but the feeling of comraderie was there.

I'd like to say that now they all love each other unconditionally and will live happily every after. The truth is that they are doing the work that makes teams successful. They are finished with the "storming" process (common to many new teams) and have moved on to building bridges. They are investing in relationships and are recognizing and respecting each other's talents and abilities. I'm very proud of this team. I am sure there will be other bumps in the road, but I am also confident that this team will weather the storms.


Mrs.Mallon & Mrs. Dillard said...

Where's our picture? We looked so good :) ! It was great having the "Happie Appie" and sharing some time together. With being so busy at school and time so limited, it was nice to get to see the relaxed side of such a wonderful group. We decided to do this more often!MM

Anonymous said...

We had a great time! It is so nice to get together outside of school, relax and catch up on what is happening in everyone's lives. Sorry you missed the games- it was hysterical. You will have to ask about the tassels.

Suzanne said...

I ran into a teacher today from a local school who I knew in an earlier chapter of my life. She asked, "How is the moral in your school this year?" I thought it was an odd question, but answered her anyways, "Great," I said. "Why, do you ask?" She went on to ask how we avoided the usual pitfalls of fighting teams, and shared some situations that were occurring at her school this year. Although, I could have matched her word for word, I didn't. What makes us different is that we don't air our dirty laundry, however we don't ignore it, either. We work on building relationships and respect among one another. Sometimes, it works beautifully and sometimes not, but it is not for a lack of trying!

dayle timmons said...

Okay Maria, I added the picture and you're right - you guys do look pretty good! I should have gotten the new kitchen in the background! thanks for hosting (and entertaining!) us!