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Relational Reflections: Yes, another blog, and this one’s from Dr. Nadine and Dr. Zan at True Heights

Collaborative Communication

Dr. Nadine’s Thoughts:

It’s a lovely day here in New Orleans, where I’m enjoying a little R & R.  I have the luxury of looking out over the Crescent City, enjoying the energy of the town, along with the fabulous food and magnificent music.  It also affords me a wee bit of time between shopping excursions and beignets to sit gratefully and reflect over the last several days.

This past week has been filled with the ups and downs that come with being an administrator of a group of people who have a wide range of experiences, natural personal styles, differing values, and overlapping priorities.  It has been a challenging task to help them focus on their shared responsibilities, and to encourage them to listen to one another in productive ways.

At the same time, I also had the distinct pleasure of working with a group of administrators who are part of the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS); Dr. Zan and I presented a workshop on collaborative communication to the lower school headmasters.  The participants represented a broad range of professional experience, from one who was just assuming her position to another who would soon release it after many years. It was a wonderful adventure for us to experience the commitment to, and the desire for, excellence that these professionals were bringing to their annual conference.  As we talked and listened, it was evident that they shared a passion for their work and a desire to incorporate ways that would enhance the professional relationships that they had with their colleagues, students, and families. They were open, reflective, evaluative without being judgmental, and they had a genuine respect for one another.  In fact, without reviewing our entire presentation, Dr. Zan and I found that they embodied the very qualities that we were espousing as critical elements of being communicative and collaborative colleagues.

I personally found myself buoyed by the energy generated during the workshop, and I felt nurtured by our shared value of promoting positive partnerships.  While I always know that Dr. Zan and I are excited to provide others with many helpful ideas and techniques for enhancing relationships, I also am grateful to our participants for what they give back to us.  I came away from that day feeling like my soul had been uplifted. And isn’t that what a positive partnership and collaborative connection does? I would encourage all our readers to find at least one person who does that for you.  And do it soon. It’ll change your life—REALLY!


Dr. Zan’s Reflections:

As I write, I rest in the knowledge that Dr. Nadine continues to bask in the delight of her trip to New Orleans, a city that has always held a special place in her heart. I too have enjoyed the opportunity to reflect since our time shared with the NJAIS administrators, but my reflective time was at the Delaware seashore. As I watched some adorable little piping plovers race along the shore, I couldn’t help but think of the harried pace that characterizes the life of administrators in any school and particularly the thoughtful, connected folks we met this week at the conference for lower school leaders. My observations of the captivating little sea birds renewed my appreciation for their ability to run along the very edge of the tide waters and yet never come away with their feet fully saturated by the waves. Never once did they stumble, trip and fall, or bump into a companion.  Once again, the parallel with the administrators remains. Effective administration requires one to make quick and dynamic adjustments in response to the sometimes unpredictable movements of others. An unshakable resolve and sturdy inner compass helps to smooth those momentary adjustments that would otherwise feel disconcerting and random.

I often feel that I learn as much from being in a teaching role as I do from being in the student role. Teaching allows me to research and contemplate topics repeatedly and more deeply than I would otherwise be inclined to do. This is one of the many gifts that a career in education has offered me. After all, being a lifelong learner makes life so rich and meaningful! Exploring the topic of active listening with the beautiful lower school administrators was especially impactful. Together, we created an experience of deeply listening to one another. When we listen to another human being intentionally and fully, without planning our next remark or being distracted by our responsibilities, we are demonstrating our respect for the other person. In addition, we are able to communicate much more effectively and collaboratively. All too often we presume the need to jump in with words of wisdom and soothing; yet, the imminent need is often simply to listen--just that. Listen without agenda, without agitation, without interruption. Listening is vital to successful communication.

For any readers who are parents of school aged children, please let me put in a plug for the importance of working collaboratively with the educators at your child’s school. Certainly, all those with whom we connected at NJAIS are in their roles because they care deeply about children. These educational leaders make every decision through the lens of facilitating your child’s growth and development academically, socially, and emotionally. The expertise you as a parent bring to the school is your unique understanding of your own child. When all of the adults work collaboratively to ensure the growth of children, we create a child centered community that gives me great hope for the future. Please remember, parents and educators are ultimately on the same side--the side of children. If you ask me, that’s the best side to be on!

#trueheightsconsulting #NJAIS #collaborativecommunication






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