When I was in my twenties, I was teaching third grade at a school in New York City. I had many close friendships among the faculty and got along with just about everyone. Early one year, the Director organized a whole-school professional development retreat at a beautiful location just outside the city. We were seated at large tables around the room and the event began. Within the first hour, I decided I didn’t like the presentation. Why is not important to the story — how I showed my dislike is what matters. I wrote a few sarcastic notes to my friends seated at my table. Their laughter fueled me and I continued to make jokes, bringing more people in and creating more of a distraction. The day continued. The next morning my Director asked to speak with me. She offered me feedback: Judy, she said, you have many relationships in this school. Your colleagues respect you and are influenced by you. You always have a choice about how to use your influence. Yesterday, you chose to use it to impede the learning of some of your colleagues.
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