When I am getting ready to have a meeting about a challenge or some kind of problem that developed and needs to be solved, I actually get excited about the meeting. For me, this is an opportunity to get everyone in the same room to discuss and solve the problem. My wife is the exact opposite, and this is probably why she sends me to all meetings revolving around our five children as they have grown up in school. I do think that most people are not like me. Many people do not like meetings and they sometimes have a very difficult time communicating their ideas and feelings because they do not want to come across disrespectful or rude. But when I think about communication, the absence of good communication can destroy a marriage, ruin a friendship, or cause some major difficulties in school.
This is why I like to talk about what good communication is and how to facilitate and develop good communication. As the Head of School at BISS, I can be quoted as saying “My office door is always open to you.” But then I think, who really desires to visit the office of the Head of School? I have a wonderful Chinese tea set in my office so I can serve and drink tea with parents, teachers, and students. This is one way that I try to facilitate good communication to invite people to come and drink tea with me. Yet sometimes, there are parents who wait until the middle of May to come to my office to share some of the difficulties that their children have faced all year long. And this is when I wished that more people enjoyed meetings as much as I do. My desire is to solve problems that arise from time to time in the life of a student. Why? I do not want anything to get in the way of our students learning process. If there is a problem, I want to solve it. If something is wrong, it is my desire to do everything that I can to clear the problem so we can get back to the main reason our children are in school.
One of my favorite quotes is from Stephen R. Covey who says “Seek first to Understand; then to be Understood.” I like this quote because many people put themselves first and want everyone to understand their situation first. The idea behind this quote is for a person to place themselves into somebody else’s shoes. In other words, the first thing you should do is to look at the situation from the other person’s perspective to see how the other person might see it. This is especially challenging in the relationship of the student and the teacher. One idea that I have heard is that the teacher is always correct. Yet, as professional teachers we should always seek first to understand our students and see where they are coming from. When we do that, we show great respect to our students and we foster and facilitate a type of communication that is lasting and that not only promotes but opens the door to teaching and learning for the student. This is why communication really is a wonderful thing. The absence of good communication in school between the teacher and the student robs the student as well as the teacher of the opportunity for success. In my next blog post, I will continue to explore the concept of good communication and how it can be achieved.
Randal L. Eplin, Head of School