Back to Square One !

Ever have one of those days?  Yesterday, we did.  The day did not begin well as the school was preparing for a site visit.    Cathy the fearless leader of our community would be busy with the visit so she would not be able to lead the meetings.  We discussed the night before how we would manage.  I could have taken over and things would probably turn out OK.  But no!  That would have been too easy.  So, we thought, why don’t we let the students run the meeting.  And to make it even more interesting, I thought instead of telling them Cathy won’t be there, I would  just sit and wait  to see what happens.

After the two classes merged for the morning meeting, they were waiting quietly for it to start.  Cathy’s chair was empty.  No one said anything.  We waited and waited and waited.  Finally,  someone raised their hand and asked,  “What are we doing?”    I replied,  “We are waiting for someone to lead the meeting.”   She said, “I’ll do it.”  That was the beginning of the fall of the republic.

The meeting resorted into a cacophony of screams, shouts,  disrespectful language, and even a quasi-coup as someone else took over leadership!  Wow!   I stood in the middle of  the mayhem and madness and thought I was in the midst of a revolution.  To further exascerbate the situation I kept being buzzed on my walkie-talkie and kids kept coming and going as part of the site visit.  YIKES!!!  Somebody save me, get me off this sinking ship.

However, what I did not do, was ursurp control.  I did not resort to my former dictator self and quiet everyone down.  That would have been easy.  I was a very good dictator in my time.   Instead, I did what everyone should have done the moment the meeting lost control.   I began to write problems on the board.  Problem after problem after problem.  By the time I was finished writing, there were five problems on the board.  All of a sudden, a hush fell across the room.  Then quiet murmurings of,   “this is bogus”,  “she’s trippin'”,  “why’d she write all those problems?”

The leader of the meeting just found a new surge of strength; he rang the bell and said, “We have a problem.”  For the next hour and half we discussed the problems that needed to be solved.  (I think you can guess what some of them were).   During the beginning of the meeting one of the students suggested we go back to our regular classrooms, keep our democracy but separate the classes.  Oh, I have to shamefully admit, I wanted to jump up at that suggestion and say yes, yes, yes!  I didn’t though and towed the party line.    By the time we had to do our site visit duties, we solved all but one of the problems, which the other class said they would handle.

Whew!  Exhausting!  Frustrating!  One step forward and two steps back!

When I told Cathy about it, she said that it tells her that we do need the students to take over.  I wholeheartedly agreed.  We have been wanting to have students take over for awhile; and, the site visit obligations of Cathy were a perfect segue. The situation today reminded of what the instructor says during my gym  workouts when we do a particular exercise – if it hurts, that means we should do it again soon!

Update: Another student  led the meeting today, and it all worked out pretty well.  Baby steps!

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