I clicked the red “leave meeting” button and slammed the lid shut on my laptop, so frustrated with one of the other teachers at the student support meeting that just ended. “Uuuuuhhh!” I grunted, shoving my arms into the sleeves of my coat. I jerked up the zipper and headed outside to my morning supervision spot on the playground, angry thoughts swirling in my head.
On the way down the hall, I passed my coaching partner. “I can’t wait to hear how the meeting went,” she said.
“I am LIVID right now,” I said, the words coming out slow and low. “I’ll tell you about it when I get back in.”
The cool morning air helped clear my head and calm my body. Fifteen minutes later I was back inside, telling my partner what had happened. When I finished, I went into my office and sat down at my desk to get some work done, ready to put it behind me.
I opened the teacher’s guide on an upcoming unit, but through the wall behind me I could hear loud voices, almost yelling. One of the voices was the teacher that I was so frustrated with. I couldn’t understand exactly what was being said, but I could hear enough to know that the conversation taking place on the other side of the wall was about the morning meeting.
Just ignore it, I told myself, forcing my eyes to the unit overview page, trying to focus on the scope and sequence in front of me. Let it go.
But I couldn’t. I felt the frustration rising up from deep in my gut and I knew I had to do something. I’m not a confrontational person, I don’t take things personally, and I’m really good at maintaining my composure. But I felt like the comments made had not been said in the best interest of the student we were trying to help. And that’s why I couldn’t let it go.
I pushed back from my desk and headed out of my office. I still didn’t know what I was going to say as I opened the outer door of the special education room and walked to the office where the conversation was taking place. I looked through the window on the door, my heart beating hard in my chest. Why am I doing this? I thought. This is so not my style.
I raised my hand. Breathe.
Knocked on the glass. Okay.
Turned the doorknob. Stay calm.
Pushed open the door. Now what?
I paused for a moment, then simply said, “I can hear you through the wall.”
The teacher looked at me and I saw her face crumple as she dissolved into tears. My anger instantly melted, replaced by concern for my colleague who was clearly in distress over something much larger than that morning’s meeting. I waited for her to take some deep breaths. And then I listened.
I’m glad I heard her voice through the wall. I’m grateful that I didn’t just ignore it. I’m sorry to have passed judgment without seeing the whole picture. I learned a lot this morning.