The most powerful message I’ve heard this year was “you are enough”! It was said in the context of leadership in Catholic Education by Dr Jill Gowdie at a course about prophetic leadership for the 21st Century. In other words, staff in Catholic schools should be confident that they are enough for their students, and any formation does not imply a lack, but is about personal growth. This is something we could do with in school! If each teacher only felt that they were enough, perhaps they wouldn’t feel so threatened by professional development, by professional learning teams, and by classroom observations (for the learning intentions of the observer).
With my leadership hat on (rather than teacher of Religious Studies), making a staff feel valued and yet have a desire for growth is undoubtedly a challenge for any leadership team. In part, perhaps this has something to do with affirmation and acknowledgement of beneficial qualities where they are found, but more than that, it is probably about meeting each teacher where they are at, affirming them in who they are, and working with them on the areas in which they want to grow.
I work with an amazing group of people, and wonder how best to let them know what it is I value about who they are, and the work they do with students and staff in school. It is a balancing act – nobody wants to be obsequious, yet I genuinely admire the best qualities in the people I work with, and want to acknowledge that. Being the best you can be for students in a Catholic school is not about how holy you are, how many times you’ve been to Mass, how well you stick to the letter of the law, but about treating each student with dignity, putting relationships before content, and working on bettering yourself before working on your students.
By the same token, I was very pleased when a handful of my colleagues (individually, and in response to something rather unpleasant which I won’t go into) recently told me that they value the work I do. It affirmed me in the efforts and care with what I do, and made me want to work harder for their benefit.