Trading One's Patterns Away for Success

For some years I have had two grand plans. One was to build a naturalized RC group within the San Francisco Unified School District, which would develop parent support groups at all of the child development centers in the district and create a job to get me out of the classroom. The second was to develop an "engine" that would systematically bring large numbers of people of color into RC (my thinking being that we need to recruit people of color in large numbers at one time in order to overcome their isolation in RC).

Last year I applied to many foundations for funding for the naturalized group and met with considerable frustration. My boss even accused me of competing with her for funds. Some of the parents I was trying to win over to RC began attacking me.

I started giving up on my grand plans. Instead I focused on my classroom and eliminated some of the reasons for me wanting to leave it. I started doing workshops for the Parent Services Project (PSP), a national network of childcare centers, on "Asking for What You Want and Getting What You Need" - in other words, reclaiming power. I recruited two parents to do these workshops with me, and we did pretty straight RC. The PSP loved the workshops and they are writing a grant for us to extend our work.

Then I took a key district administrator to lunch. We hit it off. I took a chance and told her about Co-Counseling. She is now writing a grant for us to conduct six workshops for the district-wide parent leaders' group. I showed her a couple of Patty Wipfler's pamphlets, and she said, "Oh yes! I've just given those to all my social workers." Then I started an RC class and got two of the parents I had been working with to join, including the one who last year was attacking me most vehemently.

So I don't have the naturalized group I wanted, but I have two other groups paying me to do what I wanted the naturalized group to do. And I don't exactly have an "engine" generating masses of recruits for RC, but I have gotten five parents to complete RC classes, three of whom have stuck with it, including the two in my present class, which is a majority people of color. The key shift I made was to pull my own ambition of creating a job for myself out of the equation. As the tortoise taught the hare, slow but steady sometimes wins the race.

Henry Hitz
San Francisco, California, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00