In addition to English, I also teach yearbook and leadership classes. As I work with students in these elective courses, a need for collaborative decision-making often arises. I intentionally empower the students participate in meaningful activities that require decision-making. Most of the time, I work with them, and sometimes am even fortunate to simply follow their lead, as we plan events and create the yearbook. However, conflicts occasionally arise between my expectations and theirs. Since I intend to settle conflicts without taking away their voices and power, I attempted to follow Covey’s Habit #6: Synergize.
Our interactions often follow the synergy action plan. Last week, a class discussion led us through the steps when the students in leadership class asked to play music at lunch everyday instead of only on the days of special events. I listened as they explained why they should play music daily: fun, engaging, uplifting, entertaining, and community-building. I spoke on behalf of the adults in the cafeteria (all of the adults on-shift during lunch also eat in the cafeteria with the students). I explained that the volume prevented conversations, sometimes the lyrics are inappropriate, and the noise and activity is insensitive to the needs of introverts who do not have anywhere else to go to recharge. We brainstormed and all offered potential solutions. The next day, we solidified our plan to make lunchtime music a routine: mellow music on Tuesday, upbeat music on Thursday, censored playlists, and appropriate volume to allow conversations. By working with my student-leaders instead of just compromising on our expectations, we were able to create a solution which benefits many members of our campus community.
Teaching the Habit
When I shared Habit #6 with Damon over our last few bits of sushi, he expressed concern; he said that he rarely participates in interactions that require working with others to find a solution. After attempting to see areas of collaboration in his workplace, school, and friendships, he suggested that is may apply to his favorite setting--playing the massive multiplayer online role-playing game, Runescape. He said he recently began using teamspeak to strategize with other players to prepare for a new game feature. He said he can use the synergy action plan to create truly collaborative strategic plans. I am glad we were able to find a situation in which synergy can apply to life, but I also hope that he will be able to experience more face-to-face collaborative decision making problem solving.