This week at work there was a major blow up between 3 first grade teachers and the music teacher. For many years there has been a certain degree of dissatisfaction among the teachers with the way the music class is run, but nothing has ever been said directly to the music teacher about it. Three first grade classes attend music together, totaling almost 60 kids. To say it can be challenging to keep them all focused and paying attention is an understatement. Unfortunately it is made more difficult by the music teacher not being prepared and talking too much in between songs allowing time for many of these 6 year olds to become restless and begin talking to one another. That leads to the music teacher becoming angry and then becoming angrier when the first grade teachers are talking to one another and not monitoring their classes. It is a vicious cycle, a catch 22. The “blow up” began with the music teacher throwing out 2 of the first grade teachers, yes, kind of like high school, for talking during class. The third to go was me. Then the real problem was when the music teacher embarrassed one of the teachers (not me) in front of the 60 students and that teacher started to cry. No need to watch reality shows on TV, one was playing out right before my eyes in our school. The crying teacher headed straight to the Principal’s Office which led to the music teacher being called in a few hours later.
Why am I telling you all this? The music teacher is a neighbor of mine. She came and knocked on my door over the weekend to apologize to me and talk about the “incident.” It led into a discussion, and I found myself telling her what I really thought, (when will I ever learn) trying to watch how I was presenting what I was saying, but there seemed to be only so much I could sugar coat. I tried to explain the reason the 1st graders ended up talking was because there was too much “down time” and when she keeps interrupting the music because a few kids aren’t paying attention it only makes it worse. I did not mention that I think she is unprepared, allowing the kids to lose interest. I told her I was not telling her this to be mean, but rather in the hope the class might be “revamped” to work for everyone. She then referred to my words as “constructive criticism”, which I objected to, as I didn’t feel I was criticizing her, but I guess I really was. Somehow because I felt I wasn’t coming from a place where I was trying to be mean or hurt her then therefore it wasn’t criticism. But it was. I know for myself that if I want to change and grow I need to explore my reactions to things, the reason behind my actions, and be open to guidance from people and their suggestions to help me achieve this change. Perhaps it is different if one seeks out this help and then can accept it with an open mind, as opposed to someone (me) offering their perceptions of a situation and how it might be changed without having been asked. (to her). I repeated more than once that I wasn’t telling her all this to hurt her, but she made it pretty clear she was taken aback by my words. She did thank me for my honesty as she does want the situation to change and knows it can’t continue as it has been going.
Was it constructive? Is there ever a place for telling someone what you really think in the hope that things will change- that they will change- or does it end up just doing more damage in the end? I welcome your thoughts!