Nurturing Relationships: Me in a Group

When I was in my twenties, I was teaching third grade at a school in New York City. I had many close friendships among the faculty and got along with just about everyone. Early one year, the Director organized a whole-school professional development retreat at a beautiful location just outside the city. We were seated at large tables around the room and the event began. Within the first hour, I decided I didn’t like the presentation. Why is not important to the story — how I showed my dislike is what matters. I wrote a few sarcastic notes to my friends seated at my table. Their laughter fueled me and I continued to make jokes, bringing more people in and creating more of a distraction. The day continued. The next morning my Director asked to speak with me. She offered me feedback: Judy, she said, you have many relationships in this school. Your colleagues respect you and are influenced by you. You always have a choice about how to use your influence. Yesterday, you chose to use it to impede the learning of some of your colleagues.

Judy is the Executive Director of Leading for Children, a national nonprofit that empowers early childhood professionals to be leaders and learners.