Serving Saltwater Waldorf School as Faculty Chair has been a privilege, a challenge and a constant learning opportunity. Over the years Saltwater School has experienced a variety of faculty configurations, from intimate groups of 4-5 people, expanding quickly to 15 people, and then everything in between. Apart from the obvious work of gathering agenda items, setting the weekly faculty meeting agenda, and facilitating the meeting, there has been a recognition that throughout all of our trials and tribulations over the years, the most important ingredient in a healthy faculty is clear and healthy communication. Miscommunication, misunderstandings, and legitimate conflict will arise between faculty members, but it is how we work with the conflict that demonstrates our ideals and our strivings as human beings. As we teach the children to speak clearly and to work through challenges with one other, we provide the guidance, and often the language, for them to communicate their needs, perspective, and their hopes for resolution. It is imperative that as adults, teachers, and school faculty members, that we hold ourselves to this highest ideal of clear communication. I have found the following list, found in the AWNSA publication, The Art of Administration, to be a most helpful guide when facing conflict. It can be applied in all areas of my life, and serves to remind me that conflict is part of life, and that:
“We must speak from the heart, and make ourselves vulnerable.
In our frailties and our strivings we bear witness to our humanity again!”
- The Art of Administration
Working with Conflict
1. Movement is necessary, so things do not solidify and stagnate. A willingness to begin discussions needs to be there
2. The process of the resolution is as important as the end result. We can turn paralyzing conflict into constructive differences and diversity.
3. There must be of goal of creating an atmosphere of trust. This is built through activity and devotion that we experience when we each work with the children.
4. Conflict must be articulated and be perceptible for all (not just felt in its effects) but describe the chronology and nature of the conflict. When we externalize it and objectify it, the conflict can lose its destructive grip.
5. There must be a willingness to do this work. A willingness to find a solution and work together.
6.There must be COURAGE, to confront with shadows of ourselves and others. We must work with honesty, humility and fearlessness.
7. It must be a non-judgemental approach to resolution, there is no right or wrong.
8. We must honour the freedom in the other, to come to their lessons in their own time.
~ Jennifer Irwin