Wong, Tracey. (2013) Building bridges. Library Media Connection, Oct2013, 32(2), p30-31.
Ms. Wong starts by being very clear about a rocky relationship she had with a principal over a difference of opinion regarding her professional responsibilities. She knew she needed to take the initiative, and through hard work and a lot of communication and advocacy, she overcame this “adversarial relationship.” (32) In this article she discusses how she “learned to stand up for myself” with “the five points on building bridges.” (32) The points are: building communication, building community, building partnerships, building relationships, and building resources.
All five points were about advocating for herself and her program by discussing, highlighting, and showing what her students did and were learning through her programming. Through building communication, Wong kept her principal informed of all the work she did specifically around grants and opportunities she brought to the school. For community building, the author created a newsletter where she she highlighted student work as well as the collaborations she was forming with colleagues. To build relationships with her colleagues, she made herself invaluable when they needed help with projects or classroom work. And she made a point of conducting professional development opportunities for her staff. Wong also developed community partnerships to plant trees and to bring volunteers into the school. Finally, building resources was about her continued work to bring in grant funding for special projects. She was so successful at this, that she was asked to write a grant for their at risk student population and brought in $144,000.
Overall, “building bridges” took a lot of time, energy, and commitment. However, the “180 degree” (33) turn that happened with her principal was all worth it.
I am constantly looking for practical, no-nonsense, suggestions of what I can do to advocate for myself and my program. Wong is very clear about the time and commitment it will take to “build bridges.” And as professionals, this article is very clear about constantly needing to build these relationships, partnerships, communications, resources, and communities. Yes, we will be recognized as the professionals we are and what we contribute to our programs and schools, but it’s our students who will win the most.