Imagine if there was no “I” at your school.
That would also mean, no me, no mine, and no my – not even a you, or a your, or theirs.
Only a WE.
What would your school look like?
What would it look like from your perspective as principal?
For a start you wouldn’t say that this was “your’ school”, or “my school” …. Instead it would always be our school. That’s not a hard place to start.
There would never be problems over ownership – they couldn’t be yours, or mine, but only ours. I wonder if this would make things easier? Would this lead to the problem being judged and not the person? Or would this lead to problems never going away in a mountain of unaccountability?
Stay with me a little longer.
School resources wouldn’t or couldn’t be selfishly hoarded because there would never be a, “Hey! That’s mine!”, or a “I bought that out of my budget”.
Would this lead to people looking after things haphazardly, or would they care more?
On the face of it this seems like just a simple change in language. But how could this simple change define your school?
Time would be ours and no one would mind if they took up your time or if you took up theirs. Our time would always be ours. Would this lead to more time wastage? Or would it lead to things taking the time that they always needed and warranted?
And what about that little kid, sitting over there? The one who can’t read and who gets so frustrated that she kicks, bites and spits. She would rightly be our problem. Would she even be a problem at all? Should she ever have been seen as a problem in the first place? Would the Ministry of Education see her as your problem, or would they see her as a human who rightly needs to be supported?
I wonder what trust would look like? If there was just a we, and there was always just a we, then what trust could ever be broken?
Much of trust is you and me orientated. I trust you not to put me in the shit, and you trust me not to do the same. If you break that trust, or maybe it’s me, then where does that put us? If there’s no you and me, just a we, then where does that put us?
And what about well being?
We collectively look after each other without judgement. There’s no “he’s not coping” sort of comments. There’s just a we are in this together.
And learning? Recently I found myself sitting in my Te Ahu te Reo course, and I wondered, what if I looked at my me learning, as I sat there responding very much as an individual, as a we learning experience instead? And I imagined what it would be like if everyone else in the class also looked at it as a solely we learning experience. How would that feel as a learner?
Of course having just a system where everything is a we could be akin to an ant colony. We shouldn’t be leading schools where everyone and everything is done at the beck and call of one being, or one overarching reason.
The goal I guess, as principals and leaders in our schools, is to build our cultures where both we and me/I can flourish side by side. Our role is to get this mix just right, the Goldilocks mix as I like to call it, so that the beauty of humanity can shine. Our humanity.
Too much we, and our schools can be stifling; too much I and our schools become isolated egos all fighting for attention.
In our schools we deal with multiple approaches and multiple personalities. Somehow we are able to magically sprinkle fairy dust through our classrooms, playing fields and staffrooms, and we are able to take this seething horde of humanity and make it all work together and collaborate – like a WE. Wow, think about that for a minute – that’s quite an achievement.
As an individual you get to bring your own flair, creativity and identity to the kura and this should never be underestimated.
But the best place to start, is to begin with the we/our…. as in “this is our school”.