Monday, March 01, 2010

Anger, Blame and Organizational Priorities

In a previous post, I mentioned two educators who widely share their materials on quality professional development. Their blogs show off some nice clips of their own professional development sessions. Meanwhile, I still have photos on my digital camera because I'm not sure how to download them onto my computer (more importantly, I'm never sure where these photos go when I download them or how to manage the files into logical categories). You will notice no nice clips on this blog. Using and integrating technology is not my area of expertise and I'm not always clear on how to direct my own learning in this area.

Recently, I filmed our instructors teaching lessons and wanted to post the video on a school server for other teachers to view. I spent hours one weekend trying to transfer the film from a camera to my laptop and then trying to move that clip to the server. These were hours confronting the difference between compressed and uncompressed film and learning that my conversions to Quick Time only pick up what is in my project library in iMovie. I couldn't transfer film to the server and didn't know how to manipulate the film I was importing. I wanted to toss the camera and laptop in the nearest trash bin, as I experienced the equivalent of road rage.

I wish I had been more reflective in that moment and thought -- "hey, it's my fault trying to do something on the weekend when no one is around to help and I probably should have listened better or taken better notes when I was instructed on how to do all this." those opportunities to reflect just go whooshing by. Instead, I ranted. I sent an email to a colleague complaining about the lack of technology support.

My wise and thoughtful colleague replied, "I'm sure that we all have a perspective on something that could/should work better. I guess the trick is continuing to explore those things with an eye toward the overall priorities. Some things will rise in importance and some we'll just have to live with as is. I do think that in the absence of any guiding principles with regard to organizational priorities, any one of us can become consumed with our own perspective."

He got me thinking about how any one who is experiencing any problem at any time could be prone, as I was, to wondering how others could improve. We operate always and automatically from our own self-interests and forget about the needs of others. How many teachers are teaching right now while I'm composing this blog wishing that I or my department were in their classroom helping them with their instruction, taking more time to provide feedback on their lesson plans or working on their behalf to gather resources they need to teach? I am learning to be more patient in getting my own needs met as well as empathetic about what others need.

Another point raised in my colleague's response, is that some of the frustration could be mitigated if we were all clearer on organizational priorities. That way we would know what is on the horizon for planned improvement and how we were all playing a part.

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