Collaboration - your team members are also persons


George Eliot said,

“what do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other”?

This is an interesting one to ponder as a team, as so often the least strong part of our entire practice is what we do for each other.

We may serve children beautifully, and be warm and responsive to families, but to the teachers and management we spend our days with? Whether we class these people as friends, or merely ‘colleagues’, sometimes there is very little that is collegial about how we treat each other.

Obviously there is a strength in a team when there is togetherness. A shared philosophy, a common purpose is uniting.

But in some settings it seems as if a bunch of individuals are going about their own journey with little regard for each other. We stick rigidly to job descriptions, only doing what we’re tasked with, and leaving the ‘not us’ jobs to someone else. We follow the clock, doing what best serves us, and what we’re ‘entitled’ to. We get frustrated when the needs of other team members try to encroach into ‘our time’ or responsibilities. When we are a bit too focused on ourselves, we certainly aren’t coming from the perspective of making life less difficult for others!

But what if we did? What if we walked into our setting with a mindset of making life less difficult? How would that change things?

We imagine it would shift things, for both the rest of the team and ourselves. And it wouldn’t take that much. Just a little extra thought, an extra action here or there, kind words and queries, a flexible attitude.

How hard would it be to make an extra cuppa while you make your own, or do a tidying job when you get a moment, even if it was on someone else’s ‘to-do list’? What would it mean if this was your team’s way instead of doing just for themselves?  

We know things get busy and sometimes we feel we are scrambling so why add more to a full plate? But the funny thing is that in giving a little more, we probably find that things feel less stressful. The atmosphere is nicer. We aren’t just using time as we were before, we are investing time in kindness. And it becomes contagious.

Good deeds spark other good deeds, thoughtfulness sparks thoughtfulness. We probably never realised that we spend so much time sometimes sorting who is ‘supposed’ to do what, that we could have achieved twice as much by everyone just being observant and working out what needs doing.

When we stop looking at each other as just colleagues, and as teachers, we see the person too. We know that personal lives seep into our professional. That’s the best way in fact. And it means we can be flexible with each others’ needs.

Some months are busy for one but quiet for another. Let’s help each other out, give a few minutes grace where we can. Sometimes we worry if we help others we become a ‘door mat’, but if that mindset of kind action is infused into the culture of a place, it’s different.

We can say yes wherever possible so that whenever we need to we can also say no.  A collaborative team is a joy to work in. A conscious team is a pleasure. If all it takes is to make life a little less difficult for each other, isn’t that a focus worth pursuing?