Friday, August 31, 2007

What I Didn't Share

So last week while I was consulting, we did a warm up activity involved teachers drawing two representations on their name tents: how they saw themselves and how their students saw them. I facilitated the end of the activity and what followed.

As I circulated in the room, here's part of what I thought, but didn't share:

Wow. This is actually sort of an example of post-modernism and multiple selves. Or is that post-structuralist? No, it's post-modern. Derrida? Foucault? Who remembers...Where is Aribitrary Marks when I need her?

Why didn't I share that pithy observation about multiple selves? Because I couldn't remember the difference between post-structuralism and post-modernism? No. Because I knew the audience and knew I would sound like a pretentious ass and turn them off in the first five minutes. This is not to say post-modernism isn't appropriate and even quite relevant. And maybe if I had time to find a way to talk about multiple selves that closely related I would have done that. But I chose to keep my mouth shut. And that's absolutely okay sometimes. We don't need to share all that we know at one time.

Along those lines, I also thought:

Why I remember when I taught high school how I used ot drag myself away from Jim and writing in the morning, put on a long wool skirt and button down blouse to dress like a nun in order to create a sexless teacher persona. Yes, what a perfect example of the difference between how students saw me and how I saw myself!

I also didn't share that. It was more personal. I hadn't thought about how to present it. And I didn't want to risk suggesting that the people in the room were sexless. The memory probably could have been finessed, but I didn't have time, and I was so tired that I couldn't quite predict how it would come out of my mouth. Again, it's not that I wasn't fully myself in the consulting role. I truly was. But I didn't have to share every thought that came into my head in an attempt to bond with the teachers. And my internal monologue can remain internal without losing anything.

These are examples from my own life (obviously) and about my own choices with sharing and not sharing. However, I think everyone has to negotiate her own choices about this. My decisions were informed by both knowledge of the audience and the importance of appearing methodical to them, and knowledge of myself and that when I'm tired, I simply don't ad lib well. So no off-script sharing.