Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ask and Offer

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, Anna, Kathleen & Deb for creating community and valuing voice. Join us at Two Writing Teachers. Slide by the Slice of Life buffet for seconds or link up to serve your own slice of life.

Ask any teacher, the beginning of the school is as stressful as it is wonderful. We get to start new each year. We get the opportunity to approach our work with fresh eyes. We begin all over again with new students and sometimes new administrators and new courses. Beginnings have a special kind of magic.

At my school, we are in our last six months of a thirty-month renovation. We have a ninety-five acre campus.  We serve more than three thousand students. The re-build is a huge project. It has added new classroom space and new buildings to our campus sky line. Even the old buildings seem new: beautiful and clean. Each of the academic buildings has closed one at a time, to be stripped to blocks and studs, and refreshed; all but one is finished. The last--the building I may eventually move to--will be complete in time for Christmas. Teachers have moved out of old classrooms into portable classrooms and then back into the refurbished spaces.

You can imagine.

Though the district hired movers to move teachers boxed up belongings, there've been a few rough patches. Boxes get lost. Items get broken. Sometimes teachers things get moved to the wrong place or not moved at all. That was the case yesterday, our first "teacher" day back to school.

One of the English teachers' things was delivered to the wrong room. She was told that the movers
may come by week's end to move her to the correct room. When I heard her talking about it with our administrator I offered to help her move.   I was open to the work. And, I'd brough the heavy-duty dolly from home to move some of my own things.
Just a portion of the load we moved. Lots of boxes of books here--good things!

I offered.  We weren't finished with the first load when two of her friends, a football coach and a guidance counselor,  arrived. She didn't even need to ask her squad for help; they had heard and come.

They offered. We had one dolly and several pieces of squeaky-wheeled furniture. We rolled boxes on top of utility carts and rolling chairs across campus to her new room.

We crossed dirt and gravel. When someone got stuck, we stopped, left our own loads and helped carry theirs into the clear. We held doors for one another and took turns on the elevator. We laughed about the squeaky wheels and made train jokes as we clack, clack, clacked over shiny, brick-tile floors.

After the second load, the football coach realized his things had never been moved, so we offered to move him next.

We offered. At one point, the guidance counselor said, "Now THIS is team work!" Indeed it was. It was ninety-eight degrees out and we laughed together. Working happily through the hard things--physically difficult things or cognitively difficult things--builds relationships.

Two words have been on mind since: ask and offer. When you need help or support, ask. When you see someone in need, offer. Sweet. Simple.


I'll be doing both all year.


  1. And that's how it goes, teamwork, collaboration, happiness among everyone. You've all made such a happy start, despite the work & the temperature, still fun to make things happen together. You've made me remember a time when our school van was stuck in the sand on a trip. All the class had to help dig & then push it out. We had seen some amazing wonders on that trip, but the memory of that time was one thing many said was the best day. I wonder how we can make it happen in the classroom? Nice to hear your story!

  2. And to think this moving collaboration needed no top-down mandate! It happened organically, naturally as is most ideal in education.

    We had major renovation in my part of our building this summer. I saw the newly remodeled restrooms yesterday. They are beautiful. And we have a new stall in both the boys' and girls' restrooms. We have new windows and lighting in the halls and some classrooms. My room also had some work done to close in a window that used to lead to an atrium, long ago abandoned. I have boxes and boxes to unpack and stuff from home to return to school. It's a daunting task, indeed, but it appears as though I have all my stuff.

  3. What a great slice and a wonderful team effort to start the year! Sometimes adversity or the "bumps" make the comradery come to the forefront. I love your message to ask and offer and will keep that in mind as school begins later this month.

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  5. This was just the post I needed to read today! Several of us have shared about the 'work' of the start of a school year...but, wow, yours is amazing. These words gave me chills: "we are in our last six months of a thirty-month renovation." Oh my! What a fabulous story of teachers/staff helping one another - yes, we can do...and we do!!!! Happy new year!

  6. Great words to remember as I head back on Monday! Ask and Offer!

  7. Ask and Offer! I thought this was going to be about collaboration with students. Surprised to see that it was about incredible teamwork among colleagues. What a gift to be surrounded by those who helped each other, on a day when everyone had more than enough to do!

  8. Ask and offer!!! Such wise words! I love that we both wrote about the same thing in our slice!! Hundreds of miles melt away when I read your slice! Best of luck with your opening days!!!