You know that old saying, “Old dogs never learn new tricks?” I have to say, it’s one of my least favorite sayings of all time!! Who wants to feel like they’ve learned all they can? Worse yet, who wants to be treated like they can’t keep up with their craft? Not me, that’s for sure! Now, I may learn something in a different way than some of my younger colleagues, but there’s no way I’ll ever stop looking for new ways to support children, families, and agencies out in the community. In fact, as a consultant, I would be doing such a disservice if I decided that I knew all I needed to know. What would be the point of new research if the world wasn’t going to use it to do a better job?
Here’s the thing: As someone who spends a lot of time sharing information so agencies and professionals can take a closer look at their practices to make decisions about how they want to move forward, it’s not uncommon for me to hear someone say, “But I don’t think we can do that,” or “I don’t know how that would even work!” I’ve even had people flat out dig in their heels, really adamant that they don’t want anything to do with anything that’s new or different in their work. Honestly, it’s OK. Why, when I just said that learning new things is so important? Well, because change is scary. It’s often uncomfortable. It even can mean feeling unsure, incompetent, or generally yucky. (That’s a technical term, by the way, in case you were wondering.) Fortunately, I’m too stubborn to let all of that get in my way of helping someone see a new perspective that can enhance the impact of their work. 🙂 In reality, half the battle tends to be over once I’ve validated these feelings and gave them some space to air out. The other half of the battle tends to be in my figuring out how different people learn and what motivates them to even try something different.
I recently led a training during which we were discussing some of the real-life stuff that can happen when teaching a group of students, including those with different disabilities. One attendee flat out said that there are so many hard things about handling these situations and that she sometimes feels kind of exasperated with it all. Someone else may have heard that and thought she was being negative or was unwilling to learn how to manage it all, but to me, she was being really brave to say that out loud and get it out there so she can deal with it differently. Furthermore, if we didn’t get to address that perspective head-on, would she have even heard anything else I had to say? We did talk about it as a group, and we had some really great discussion around how our thought processes can impact how we perceive our students. She also had some great ideas about classroom management to share with the group once we acknowledged the challenge in working with a very diverse group of students. We have spoken since then, and she said that she knows other people think those same thoughts sometimes too, so why not just put it out there and deal with it? She also shared that she knows she’s a work in progress, but that this is something she wants to continue working on. How great is that??
Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to think about what it means to be in the No Judgement Zone because that’s what this is really all about – being in a safe, protected place that will support all different learning styles, perspectives, experiences in a way that lets us all learn new ways to work with children, families, and each other as professionals. For all of you younger, fresher colleagues, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have enough education, experience, or intuition to sit at the table with the “big kids.” Just remember that those “big kids” might have a thing or two to teach you! For all of you more seasoned colleagues, don’t let your “seasoning” fool you into thinking that you can’t sit at that same table…..and don’t let it keep you from hearing what those younger pups have to say! 🙂
What do you think about all of this? Let me know in the comments below – and don’t forget to Contact Me with questions, thoughts, jokes, or to find out more about what I can do to support you and your community!
Keep on learning….