Critical friends

As an experienced educator I learnt from some of the best. One of which is my dear friend Patisepa Tuafuti and the other was Anne Saunokonoko.

Pati shows by her actions that she grows leadership. One of which is standing back. She would push me hard to do things well out of my comfort zone and then be there to celebrate with me when I ever did anything amazing. But again always in the background. She never takes credit for achievements and always focussed on the group success. I cannot count the number of times she has shared successes with me and often put me in the limelight. But really it is her driving force that has achieved the outcome.

The other is an old principal Anne. Anne would say, “when you are successful, we are successful so go for it Sonya.” When I would quibble at attending another professional development session particularly concerning ICT, she would remind me with, ” Its not what you get out of the session, but what you contribute.” Staff at my school will now hear me use the same words. At the end of most training or celebrations she would be there for me to recap with and she would gently nudge me into trying something else new. Now I would call that downloading and rewinding strategies with a critical friend as part of reflection.

I often observe presentations and watch who is hovering in the background like a mother hen. More recently with social media I observe who is broadcasting the success of their teachers. Yes that person could be at the front in the spotlight. But often you watch them hovering to ensure that the sessions go well and only step in when needed. They are there to help celebrate their teachers achievements and to be the person to recap with and help identify next steps.

At the same time we all need mentors. We all need someone we can download with and rewind our learning. We all need someone who helps us identify our next steps. Some schools use the term critical friends because often they ask the hard questions. They provide opportunities for staff to step up. They are the ones pulling the staff forward to take a jump into unfamiliar learning.

In your workplace, who do you identify as your critical friend? Who is the staff member who pulls staff hardest out of their comfort zone? Probably those of you who are reading this, it is you. If you are arrived via twitter or if you are from my school, then you are my one of my critical friends and you know me, I welcome discussion. Click below.

One thought on “Critical friends

  1. Hi Sonya

    I totally agree you need critical friends to make progress.

    I have just posted my third blog post and it has helped to clarify my thinking.

    Thanks for being a critical colleague and friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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