This is a phrase we have all heard before, or at least I assume we have. It is usually uttered when we have reached that pivotal point where we have had enough. As I think about it, I am sure I have thought, if not uttered, those very words to or about a classroom of students. This. Is. The. Last. Straw. But it isn't and never will be. Not for me. If I reach that point, I take a deep breath and ponder, not my life's choices up to that moment, but all of the choices I made leading up to and during the class that brought me to those words. That phrase. Did I, at any point, consider the Last Straw my students may be facing? Maybe sometimes, but generally, not in that moment. No, when we reach that point, typically, we are all about ourselves.
Q1: What are way we can build bridges instead of barriers to foster collaboration with colleagues inside and outside of our building or district?
Growing up, my dad always had a few cows, chickens, and the occasional pig or rhea (he liked to take risks outside of education too). He was a high school teacher by day, a farmer by evening/night and any spare minute he had available, and a preacher on Sundays and Wednesdays (and I wonder where my propensity for being a Mad Hatter, aka multiple hat wearer, comes from). Dad decided one day that we needed fresh eggs. He grew up on a farm in Louisiana, so he bought chickens and a rooster. My brother, sister, and I thought of these new additions to our small farm as pets, so we named them. My parents, though, named the rooster. His name was Cocky Locky, a name that still drives a shot of fear into my heart when I hear it (or think about it as I write this).
Over winter break last year, I decided to take a dirt bike ride up the educational mountain of flexible seating, so I brought in a few pieces of my mom’s furniture and removed 18 desks from my classroom. My mom had recently downsized from a 2400 square foot house to a 910 square foot apartment. She had some furniture that I could use, so I did. Pushing those desks out into the hall was more difficult than I imagined. It wasn’t the physical exertion that was difficult. It was the letting go of tradition and status quo. Letting go and venturing into the unknown.