What happens if we don’t get along?
What if we have different approaches to children’s learning?
What if we have very different personalities? or likes?
It was also difficult to find anyone talking about the relationship between educators and how best to develop it. So we looked forward to our ETFO Summer Academy course, Partnerships, Provocations and Pedagogical Documentation, to give us some guidance. In fact, the reason we chose Tracy and Cheryl’s course was because they were leading it as an FDK educator team. We thought that if they could come together to teach a course, then they must have all sorts of insights on how to make this work. Tracy and Cheryl did not disappoint.
As teachers new to working in a partnership it was interesting to hear how part of their growth came from a difference in philosophies and approaches to how young children learn. Tracy and Cheryl shared that they were not friends their first year together, but decided they needed to have a positive professional relationship for the future. Cheryl speaks to Brene Browns’ quote,
The two of us spent a great deal of time reflecting on how we wanted to approach our own new working relationships and decided we would try, with each other’s support of course, to be brave and to ask some of those tough questions, especially the “Whys?” We decided to try breaking the ice by emailing our partners over the summer thinking it would help to know something about each other before the first day of school.
We began with the ‘safe’, “10 Things I Want to Know About You” questions, like the all important, “Coffee or tea and how do you take it? Mac or PC? Family? One thing you look forward to in FDK? One thing that scares you about FDK?" etc. It gave us a beginning to build upon. Then we shared a couple of blogs that have similar teaching approaches to ours and moved on to articles that had sparked our interest lately hoping to open up a conversation.
From the beginning we encouraged our partners to ask questions and to share their thinking about what was happening in the classroom as we continued to try to be open to new approaches, ideas and to sharing our thoughts or reasonings. Although we often discussed over the school year how we hadn’t really had those hard conversations, we knew we shied away in order to avoid hurt feelings or sounding like we knew more than our partners. Looking back over this, our first year in FDK, we try to keep in mind that this was our first year with a partner and will continue to work on improving and growing our relationships over the next year. That’s the nice thing about teaching, you get the chance to try it again and have a fresh start.
We have moved away from “I” and are working towards “we”.
Thank you again to Barb and Sharon West. Your honesty and reflectiveness is what makes you both such outstanding educators. Learning in partnership is absolutely a journey and a challenging one at that. Continue to be brave and courageous in your interactions with others'. We are proud and thankful to have opportunities to learn with you both and look forward to collaborating throughout the year!