May 30, 2021
I’m still researching this whole concept. In a series of posts here and here so far, I’ve been loosely comparing collegiality to congeniality. To say the least, it’s been an interesting study in the field of education. The central theme is that before we can dive in, dig deep, and operationalize high-functioning, professional learning teams (PLT), effectively implement the School Improvement Plan, or even build sustainable relationships with staff members, for example, we need to identify and practice interpersonal skills as individuals first. Because…
Without trust, there is no collegiality–only the potential for surface-level congeniality.
Before collaboration, self-reflection.
Before we can cross the bridge, we have to build it. Together.
Before we can leverage our characteristics, we need to examine the levers of our character.
Before we can put the puzzle together, we need to get familiar with the pieces.
Exploring the interpersonal skills required to learn and grow as an individual, team, group, school, or department has led to some incredible, back-channel conversations. And while it’s been fun to expound upon about all the moving parts, the research only begs for substance, depth, and meaning unless we intentionally convert theory into practice.
Blogger’s Note: Personal Confession: The examples of collegiality in action that I’m about to share with you? I haven’t practiced them as much as I have wanted to. I regret that immensely. Looking back now, I can see how my own fear, shame, and pride directly obstructed my opportunities to engage in deeper levels of vulnerability, trust, and communication, that might have ultimately led to collegiality. Especially as a young teacher growing up on a team of veterans, there was no way that I was about to share my “weaknesses.” There would be no rumbling through the arena for me. My armor was on. For a long time. Upon reflection, that might have diminished my professional progress, albeit if it weren’t for my deep, personal investment and an obsessive work ethic. Yet, understanding my strengths, my role, and how my piece fit the puzzle with my teams would have helped me big time. At the time, I just didn’t understand how my own interpersonal skills were the foundation, platform, and ultimate driver of my success and how effective my team might become. Now, I see interpersonal skills as the rudder on the ship. End Blogger’s Note.
Progressing Toward Collegiality Might Require You To…
- Identify your strengths and analyze how your piece fits the puzzle.
- Define interpersonal skills needed for success.
- Rate your interpersonal skills needed to add value to your team.
- Ideate specific examples of what collegiality looks like in action.
- Operationalize values and interpersonal skills needed to progress.
- Practice giving and receiving feedback.
- Practice having crucial conversations.
- Role-Play the Norms of Collaboration.
- Hone interpersonal skills with frequent feedback loops.
- Mentally prepare yourself before you approach other people, spaces, and situations.
Examples of Collegiality in Action
All this talk about vulnerability, collaboration, and authentically moving the learning forward together… But what does it look like in action? As you read through the following scenarios, gauge your own levels of comfort. My gauges aren’t where I’d like them to be… yet. The real question is:
Which of your interpersonal skills promote or prevent professional progress? In what areas might you wish to improve? How might you shift your thinking, approaches, and actions moving forward?
Have you ever experienced or modeled collegiality like this:
- Hello, professional learning team (PLT). Check out my microteaching segment. It didn’t go well. Do any of you have suggestions for improvement?
- I can’t quite picture what you’re saying about that __________ (lesson, lab, circle, classroom management strategy, or facilitator move). Do you mind if I come and observe you doing it sometime?
- Hey, fellow staff member. I’m not connecting with a particular __________ (student, group, subgroup). Can you help me figure out why? Might you have any strategies or advice that you’re willing to share?
- Can you please come and observe my __________ (lesson, presentation, PD training) and give me feedback? I want to get better.
- Here’s a __________ (tool, app, technology, strategy, idea, lesson) that’s not going well. I’m going to approach the resident expert for more guidance.
- My teammates have experienced my vulnerability when __________.
- I have intentionally practiced pausing, paraphrasing, and posing questions with others.
- Because my whole team, group, staff, department has invested in professional learning around identifying our individual strengths, I can better match individual needs to specific teammates with strengths to address those needs. Personally, I’ve identified my own needs, and I know which teammates I might seek for help with them.
Which scenarios might you add?
Do you have any related experiences to share?
Please share in the comments section below!