Have had a few great conversations recently about ‘sharing’. Sharing is crucial. How do we ‘grow’ good practice, develop innovative ideas and make us all better learners and practitioners if we’re not sharing it? It’s a big problem.
This is a complex issue – and not one that will necessarily be solved with the well-intentioned ‘If people don’t like you sharing, it’s their problem’ advice. I have a sneaky feeling that the roots of the problem go deep. I can still hear a few of my teachers’ instructions (from way back…), ‘Cover your work…don’t copy…keep your ideas to yourself…you can’t use somebody else’s idea…be original.’ We were discouraged to share colouring pencils, let alone ideas. And have I said similar things over the years? …Yep.
So, I’m thinking that this is a learned culture. It’s not that we don’t want to ‘stand out’ and share occasionally (in fact, we were told to stand out, too, weren’t we? All these mixed messages…), I think it’s more about not knowing how to.
How do you share without being seen to be blowing your own trumpet? How do you share an idea when you think the ‘popular kids’ in the corner will have something to say about it on the playground at break-time? How do you get those kids to be receptive to new ideas when they think they know it all, already? How do we, as teachers, walk into a colleague’s classroom, with the intention of ‘learning’, without them feeling like they’re being judged? It’s often just easier not to share – you make yourself vulnerable if you do.
The thing is, though, we have to share – and be receptive to it – the good stuff and the not so go stuff. This is what we’re encouraging our children to do more and more…share ideas, grow ideas, disagree with ideas, innovate ideas… It’s a tricky balance. In the classroom, it might be tempting to link sharing with an external reward – ‘Well done for sharing…have a house-point.’ You can see what’s coming… ‘When I shared, she didn’t give me a house-point… and… ‘That was my idea…’ and the problem persists. So, the culture of sharing just has to…well…be. We have to just get on with it – in the classroom as well as in the staffroom. Maybe the problem also comes from thinking ‘ideas belong to someone’ – the sense of ownership. Maybe ideas should not be ‘owned’…dunno.
But I do know, that if, at the end of the day, people don’t like you sharing, it isn’t just their problem – it’s everyone’s. And we need to sort it.
Definitely blown my 200 word limit…