Sunday, January 27, 2013

Orchids and Onions

Hanging in a desk drawer alongside inventories, rosters, budgets, repair records and the like hung an unusually named folder. It did not appear to have any significance other than its bizarre name. "Kevin, this is my 'Orchids and Onions' file. You'll need one." said my mentor.

This folder, I learned, housed glowing compliments and not-so-glowing criticisms received over the years. When my mentor received feedback (of the Orchid or Onion variety) he kept it, stored it away in this strangely named file, and hung it in his desk drawer. The Orchids helped him get through the tough times, and the Onions - to reconsider his practices.

Teaching has been equated to plate-spinning. There are many stakeholders. It is difficult to manage all the relational demands at times; it is challenging to keep everyone's plate spinning. Teaching at its core is relational. Relationships matter. Their statements matter.

I would encourage you to find a place to house your Orchids - especially. Sometimes when it rains, it pours, and reading statements about the positive impact you are having on students, the school community and families can help get you through tough times. However, if you find that your email inbox is looking more like an onion basket, it's time to reevaluate and make necessary improvements.

Create an environment for orchids to bloom,