Refuse. Resist. Rebuild.
There are two ways to react to something that directly challenges your own current practice.
The first is outrage. “How dare you say I’m wrong!” “That is bullying.” “No-one asked for your opinion – why don’t you just scroll past?” “I’m entitled to my opinion.” “You aren’t working with my children so what would you know about what they need?”
This reaction is the outcome of hurt feelings. We all try very hard to do our best in our jobs. When we realise others do not think our best is good enough, it can feel very painful and upsetting. It is a normal reaction to reject criticism. But it is NOT your best option.
Why? Because when you react like this, you end up feeling angry, sad, threatened and rejected. And those feelings stay with you, because you refuse to consider another viewpoint.
The second is reflection. Reflection does not mean “giving in”. And your first reaction to being challenged may well be feeling like any of the above statements!
The difference with reflection is that you do not automatically get defensive and argue back with the person or people challenging you. Instead, you ask yourself “Could they have a point?”
And then you think about what has been said. Maybe you read about what they have said – or, ask them to give you a reference to something you can read.
You do your best to put aside your hurt feelings and to honestly examine the other point of view. You do this for two reasons – because you really WANT to be the best Educator you can be – and because all of us continue to learn every day of our lives. And with learning comes personal change.
There is another compelling reason for ALL of us to take the reflective position – and that is called “best practice”. Best practice is not an opinion – it is a fact. Best practice is based on sound research that has taken place over many countries and many years. It has been proved to be the best we can do – at this time. As the years pass, new research may show that we need to do things differently, but until that happens, these are the current best practices.
Arguments against best practice are not useful to you or the children with whom you work. If you refuse to accept something that is deemed best practice and will not consider it, then you are denying the children in your care their best possible outcomes.
If you reflect on what has been said, and compare it with best practice, and still have doubts – then discuss those doubts in a new thread. Express your doubts or concerns, without getting angry or defensive. Ask others for their opinions. Ask them to explain “why” these practices work for them. You may end up debating these – debate is healthy!!
I encourage everyone to take a few minutes out before reacting to a post that challenges their current viewpoints or practice. Instead of jumping in and accusing others of “being mean”, stop and think about WHY they have said what they have said.
When you are in high school, it is common for kids to flame each other on FB. But that is childish and is usually because they know the other person in real life. Ask yourself why an adult, one you have never met in real life, would want to “flame” you on a professional FB page? The answer is almost always – they DON’T! Their response is based on what they perceive to be an inaccuracy in your practice.
“Criticise the behaviour, not the person.” We learn to do this with children. On FB, criticisms of practice are NOT personal. They are NOT saying “Anne, you are dumb!” They are saying “Anne, I do not think you are using best practice.” There is a BIG difference.
If we refuse to accept that others have different opinions, if we see any criticisms as personal, if we deny others the right to express opinions that differ from our own – what are we doing?
And if we, instead, stop and THINK about what has been said, open our minds to the possibility that we need to review our practice, set out to learn more about this different way of doing things – what are we doing?
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