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Harp

Journey
by

Harpreet Minhas

on 15 November 2011

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Transcript of Harp

Key LEarning statement #3: I am learning about ways to identify strong leaders,
as well as what qualities are necessary for moving
forward in leadership as a collaborative process. Parker Palmer "Inner Authority" Secondary Visionary Meeting Dear Friend... I really appreciated you listening to me earlier. After thinking about some of the things we spoke about, I commit to keeping an open-mind and try to judge others less. But in saying that, also commit to sharing my opinions because they are just as valid as anyone else's in the room. I will be flexible in considering people's opinions but also reflect on how much their opinion should alter my assumptions. Thanks for letting me recognize that despite my rookie seniority, I shouldn't be worried about thinking certain ideas
and that oftentimes, I'm not the only one! Harp! Friend Leigh Person 123 Learning Place Utopia City X0X 0X0 REFLECT Key learning statement #1: I am learning that identifying & acknowledging my personality style affects how I view leadership and consequently influences my leadership style. key learning statement #2 I am learning that letting go of my
inhibitions allows me to explore where my
leadership will take me. Truly understanding myself is at the heart of my educational work. Having a strong sense of self will only help me understand where I come from and where I would like to go. To fully understand myself as a teacher and leader, I have to become aware of who I am as a person. Once I build a stronger sense of self, it will help me establish a more confident presence and help me establish a sense of purpose in this profession. Parker Palmer strongly states that discovering your true identity and being able to understand what is at the core of your heart will allow you, not only as a teacher, but also as a person, to open yourself up to others.

The quote that I selected from Palmer's chapter "The Heart of a Teacher" helps me establish my purpose as a teacher. In order for me to connect with those around, I have to be able to connect to myself. Gaining insight to what is at the core of my being will help reveal inhibitions that could possibly act as a barrier between myself and others. By revealing those inhibitions, I am able to identify what I need to work on to progress forward.

By understanding what is in my heart, connections with others become more genuine. These genuine connections give me the opportunity to relate to others beyond a superficial level and create lasting relationships that will contribute more positively to collaborative processes. "...my ability to connect with my students, and to connect them with the subject, depends less on the methods I use than on the degree to which I know and trust my selfhood - and am willing to make it available and vulnerable in the service of learning," (Palmer, 2). Palmer, Parker J. ___________________________________
_________________________ The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass,
1998. Through the journey of trying to identify what my personality style is, Connie Phenix's Insights Workshop revealed that I identify best with "Sunshine Yellow". From a series of exercises and self-reflections, on a good day I tend to be enthusiastic, expressive, persuasive, optimistic, and visionary. Being a yellow energy, I have the ability to identify the possibilities in every situation. I grasp opportunities quickly, and tend to be democratic by trying to involve others. I connect to others best when they engage with me empathically or enthusiastically. Although these seem like great qualities to have (in my opinion), the workshop brought to my attention that not all people are primarily like this. While many people may share some of these qualities, these qualities alone will not help me connect to all colour energies.

Most importantly, this workshop built my understanding of mindfulness. In order for me to move forward, I have to continue being mindful of learning styles that differ from my own. By identifying the energy colours of others, not only am I able to recognize different learning and personality styles, but I am able to connect with people accordingly.

Throughout our professional development as teachers, we learn how to incorporate different instructional methods in order to accommodate for all learning needs. By taking this workshop, I have reinforced what I know for a classroom. Additionally, I have realized as a leader, tapping into all four energies allows you to reach out to a wider range of people. By incorporating these energies in collaborative processes, it gives more people a platform to contribute in a way that is comfortable and identifiable to them. Incorporating these energies into my leadership style will allow me to lead more inclusively by valuing differences. Valuing Differences

"The less we have in common with a person the more likely we are to see their weaknesses rather than their strengths."
- Anonymous

Oftentimes I notice during collaborative processes, I catch myself forming judgments of others based on their opinion. This is one of my major weaknesses. The Insights Workshop gave me the opportunity to not only begin acknowledging my own personality traits, but how I can connect better to those who differ from me. Throughout the developing stages of my journey, I am understanding that difference in opinion does not always mean difference in outcome.

In class, we wrote postcards to a colleague making commitments about a conversation we had earlier that evening. In our conversation, I noticed how quick I was to judge others on their opinions, and realized it was making the class a really negative experience for me. Remembering a quote I wrote in my journal (the one stated above), and the Insights Workshop, I realized whether or not I agreed with my colleague was not necessarily important. What is important is that I can see where they are coming from and see how I can work with their opinions to further the shared vision. As valid as I think my opinions are doesn't make anyone's less valid. As a leader, not everyone may be on board with my ideas, so how I can incorporate what they are suggesting into how we accomplish our goal is what I should really be focused on. Their opinions involve their strengths, and I need to make it my job to determine what those strengths are and how I can work with them positively. explore "I have a being that comes before my doing..."
- Parker Palmer

Having just started my career, it has been easy for me to slip into isolation. After being carefully monitored for two weeks, and then a following thirteen weeks of practicum, the moment I got my own classroom, shutting the door was the first thing I could think of doing. I had the chance to explore my own style of teaching without having to worry about justifying myself in a post-conference. I could plan lessons without having someone scrutinize over how I laid out my PLOs, and to me, I could ask for nothing more. However, looking back, I have come to realize that closing that door could have led to being the worst decision I ever made. For a long while, I felt like I didn't need anyone to validate me as a teacher, that I was confident with what was going on in my classroom, and I didn't really have anything to prove because I already had my B.Ed. It took me until this past school year to realize my "confidence" was really just a mask of my insecurities.

This year, I have been undergoing my first year observations with my principal, and it has been an eye-opening experience. When I found out it was going to happen, the thought of opening my door up, especially to my principal, gave me butterflies. It wasn't until this point I realized no one had really seen what was going on in my classroom and that made me feel very vulnerable. However, undergoing the process has been nothing but a positive experience. Showcasing what happens in my classroom has allowed me to build on my strengths and really focus on what has been working. Being observed by my principal has given me a certain confidence that, I feel, is best gained through letting your guard down. Throughout the post-conferences, he highlighted everything that was working well and really opened my eyes to one of my main strengths of connecting with others. Parker Palmer says in the clip, "I have a being that comes before doing," and my principal has shown me that most of what is working in my classroom is working because I am realizing who I am as a person before anything else. Throughout my observations, my principal has been providing me with the "safe space" Palmer believes is necessary to move forward. I am lucky to be working in an institution where I haven't lost myself in, and actually feel like I have been given an opportunity to grow within myself and profession. Where I'm From...

I am from a western society,
But hold eastern values dear to my heart.
Struggling between both cultures
My life, at times, was torn apart.

I am from a family tree
With thick roots that spread for a mile;
Raised in a household of six
And a dog for awhile.

I am from a foundation of strength
And working hard for what I want;
Taught to be humble for what I have
And told to be careful not to flaunt.

I am from oceans of salt water
And mountains of great height,
A land so vast
Where people are polite. Writing our "Where I'm From" poem was a challenge, but I was more worried about having to read it to others in class. Putting my life on the table, as it felt at the time, left me really exposed. Not only did I feel like I was being judged on my skills as a poet, but I was revealing my inner thoughts to people I don't really know. However, this seemed to be the general opinion of most people in class.

This experience was very revealing. As I grow in my profession, oftentimes I get caught comparing myself to where others are and sometimes feel inadequate. Being in a program like ours, it is easy to get swept up in feeling like I am not where I should be. However, writing this poem, and noticing that many people in the class were as nervous or insecure about what they wrote, I realized that regardless of years in the profession, or how much others have accomplished, there are many of us that still face the same fears. However, since we were all facing the same fear, we were able to support each other through this time. This experience lends itself to Palmer's idea of finding a "safe space". Once this safe space was established, it made us connect to each other on a very real level making it easier to share ideas that we would otherwise feel very vulnerable about.

This experience also helped me realize that I don't need to feel insecure. Sharing the poems served as an equalizer, exposing everyone to be more similar than would be assumed. The beauty of the poems was that they focused on you as a person, rather than you as a poet, and that was all that mattered. The purpose was to convey where you were from, and that purpose was achieved by everyone, though in different ways. Similarly, in a collaborative process, oftentimes the vision is similar, but the path may be different. Your path may not be as worn as others, but your destination is still reached. Isn't that most important? "Despite the fact their behaviour was inappropriate, the issue was resolved before reaching the breaking point - so why shouldn't that be the area of focus?"

"I was shocked how my student saw the same situation, but from a different perspective, that I would honestly never have come across had he not mentioned it." Guided Reflection We wrote guided reflections on an incident that happened during our work week. Mine was about two students nearing a physical fight over a missing IPod during class, but resolved it before it ended for the worse. Throughout the reflection, we responded to a series of questions that helped guide our thoughts in order to critically reflect on the incident that occurred. This process made me question assumptions and fears that I have carried since I have started teaching.

The evidence I included were two quotes from the reflection. These quotes challenged assumptions I have had over the past few years. I think the hardest issue for me to deal with throughout this incident is feeling like the student was telling me how to do my job. At first, when he pointed out to me that I was focusing on the wrong part of the incident, my first instinct was to disregard what he was saying because he was the student. I knew where I was coming from was justified, but I have come to realize that wasn't the point. My thoughts being justified doesn't make my student's thoughts invalid. Even though the students didn't come to terms the way I would expect them to shouldn't erase the fact that they did, in fact, come to terms. I think my biggest fear in this incident was that if I admitted that my student had a point, my authority in the classroom would weaken. However, in retrospect, I think that if I worked more with where the student was coming from, it would help me shape my assumptions better. Instead of me assuming that all students are going to conduct themselves according to my expectations, I could have built on what they thought they did well in the situation, and what could have been approached differently. Having my assumptions challenged definitely makes me question myself, but I don't think questioning myself should be seen negatively. I think this process has reminded me to be flexible and adaptable because certain situations merit us to shake things up a bit! I attended the district secondary visionary meeting this past January. During the meeting, we had a graphic artist come in and capture all the work that was done over two days. The first night, the focus was defining ourselves as a district - what we think is unique about the secondary schools in our district. The second day was establishing our values, beliefs, and purposes as secondary schools in this district, as well.

After learning about learning communities in class, it was helpful to see how the actual process takes place. Having teachers, parents, students, administrators, and CUPE workers all come together showed collaboration in its finest form. Hearing all the different opinions, and thoughts really made the outcome of the task well-rounded and representative of everyone involved. It also made it evident how important it is to have collaboration when establishing visions - not just to create goals collectively so that everyone is on board, but also to reinforce what we intend to achieve as a school/district is, in fact, actually happening. professional Learning community
- ode to parker palmer Working on our presentations, my group focused on Palmer's "community of truth" model. After researching, as a group, we discussed the best way our group could convey Palmer's theory to the rest of the class. Much like what Palmer states throughout his book, we put the subject at the centre, and after much discussion, our group members (the knowers) came in from different angles to organize a skit that best expressed his opinions on the matter. Not only did this presentation reinforce my knowledge on Palmer's theory, but it also reinforced the qualities that I have as a leader, and how my leadership is conveyed to others.

In organizing the skit, our group incorporated all of our personality colours in order to make sure we were connecting with all groups. It helped me further understand that my personality colour cannot dominate the entire presentation because I risk the potential of not reaching a lot of people. This process made me realize that it is not safe to assume everyone is going to be receptive to my approach, and moveover, how important it is to allow all personality types to contribute because my approach only represents a small population of the audience. During this school year, I have worked very closely with our ESL teacher and Learning Resource teacher in hopes that none of the students are being left behind. Although it has been exhausting at times, this process reinforces most what I have been learning throughout my journey. At the end of the day, I try to remind myself what it is that I am trying to achieve. Knowing that the students are my priority increases my desire to reach my goals as a teacher. Having the opportunity to work with others who share a similar vision strengthens my understandings of my own purpose as a teacher, and gives me an optimistic outlook for my profession. As long as there is one other person who shares the same vision as you, I think you can go a long way. Seeing even the slightest change has been infectious and causes me to want to continue forward with progress. collaborate
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