Friday, July 6, 2012

The Tao of Management - Waiting

Waiting - Hsu

     Bob Messing writes, " A manager who is sound and strong and able to manage in the midst of danger is "waiting."  Waiting is nurturing.  Do not presume upon your supposed strength. Do not hope on the remote chance of luck.  Awareness of danger requires care, caution, the refining of one's self, and the awaiting of the proper time.  When the proper time arrives, after waiting, a manger acts in an appropriate way.  A manager is strong and cognitive of danger."

    Most Montessori teachers have probably experienced the importance of waiting.  There is a time to wait in the classroom.  We learn that there is a time to wait with parents.  Sometimes waiting is important with a head of school.  Waiting is also important with fellow employees.  While I would love to hear reflective stories from others about how waiting helped them I am going to share a story about waiting outside of the classroom.

    There are parents and administrators that probably do not appreciate how stressful a going out can be, let alone overnight going out trips in a city.  Parents, I know, have a certain level of awareness when they are helping by chaperoning, but teachers must have a whole other level of awareness.  Teachers must do it in such a way that the children still have fun and the parents feel secure.  If you can make that look effortless and be successful then I think you are mastering "waiting."

    One day last year in New York City I was walking back to the hotel with ten of my upper elementary students and a couple of parents.  I typically walk in the front and have any other parents either in the middle and or at least in the back of the line.  We had gone over the rules about staying between the adults and most of the children had done this trip with me previously.  Everyone, was having a good time chatting and getting ready for the rest of the day.  As we came to the end of a busy intersection all of us were coming to a stop before we could cross.  In my periphery I saw one of my older students begin to pass me.  My arm automatically extended out and I literally pulled the student back with it.  Simultaneously, a car raced passed not two inches away with a breeze instantly imprinting in my mind the tragedy that did not happen.

    Whether in the classroom or outside of it, as guides, we must constantly wait and need to be aware of danger.  That danger could be saying the right thing at the wrong time or even saying the wrong thing because we were not patient enough to wait.  It may not seem like we are aware because we are laughing at a given moment when something can happen. Or maybe we are giving a lesson and seem too engaged to be able to be aware of what else is happening.  However, our job is to be aware.  Our job is to be ready for the right time to act.   We have a duty to practice being aware of our surroundings.

 What are some exercises that we can practice in order to be more aware and to practice our observation skills?

    1.  Open a refrigerator for thirty seconds and shut it.  Write down as much as you can about what you observed and remember in as much detail as possible.  Then open the refrigerator again and see how you did.  Practice this exercise a few times a week.  Then apply it to the classroom with children in it and see how you do.

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