When I returned from the gym today, I realized that no spoke to me or even acknowledged me. I do want to preface that this is a class-based gym not a large group of machines gym. I had an instructor in the front of the room and circulating throughout the class. She led the class with correct cueing and positive generic affirmations. On the surface, it looked like a great class, but she did not make eye contact with me once or make a comment about my work. I know enough about myself that I know I need an external motivation to keep going strong during the class. I left feeling off about my time in the gym. I really wanted to be seen for the work I was putting in today.
Thinking back to that class, here’s what I needed to push even harder. Look at me and give me feedback when you give us a challenging move. Make eye contact with me to let me know you see my hard work. Give me or my part of the room some specific praise about how we are doing. When you send us out for a sprint, high five us as we come back in the door. I can clearly articulate what I needed, but not all of our students can explicitly say what they need to learn. Unfortunately, most of us will not even share what we need with our instructor. What are we left to do?
Just last week, I finished reading Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? Through a series of interviews, it brought home the idea all students want to their teachers to know them. He also discussed the power of eye contact, gestures and facial expressions. These are some of the small things that help inspire students to learn. I also would add greeting your students at the door, using everyone’s name daily and give specific praise.
Dear Readers, I challenge you to make sure that no student leaves your classroom without being acknowledged.
I just finished Thanks for the Feedback. I cannot say enough good things about it. Put on your to-be-read pile. I picked three ideas and my next steps.
- When feedback is given, the receiver sorts into three categories, appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. I realized that I receive most feedback as evaluation. It triggers an identity block which does not allow me to action on the feedback. I need to focus on the feedback as coaching and ask what is one thing I can concentrate on.
- Bosses think they show appreciation, but employees do not feel they are appreciated. I think it is because we mix appreciation in with coaching and evaluation. I guarantee that I have said, “Thanks for ___ and have you considered ___?” I need to completely separate my appreciation feedback from any other. It gets drowned out by the other two forms.
- No performance system is perfect. I think about all of the teacher evaluation systems. They have been charged with so much. They should weed out poor performing teachers, identify areas of growth for teachers, reward excellent teachers, and communicate what best practice is in teaching. I am sure you can add other tasks as well. Unfortunately, this is using a hammer to complete all of your home improvement needs. A change in the system requires each of us to advocate for a system that has fewer tasks assigned to it.
I am not going to lie. I really hate running, but I am working on being humble and realize that I may be wrong. To check this out, I signed up for a 5K. I added running to my workouts and told everyone I knew that I was attempting this run. I set a personal goal of under 40 minutes.
On St. Patrick’s Day, the weather was horrible. Snow was scheduled to start, and it felt 25 degrees out. I wanted to stay home, but I realized that I had told everyone about my goal. So with gloves on, I began this race. I did not start to walk until about I had about a little more than a half mile. I said, to myself, just walk one block and then start back up. After that first block, I started back up at run pace, and I quickly started walking again. Luckily for me, a woman came running upside to me and said, “Come on! You’ve got this! We only have a half mile left.” I started to pick up my pace and ran alongside her. During this time, the wind picked up as we entered the downtown area. She and I kept cheering on each other. When we finally crossed the finish line, we thanked each other for helping us finish strong.
I tell you this story because the first two miles were easy, and I didn’t need anyone to accomplish the work, but as running got harder and the sleet seemed to come from everywhere, I needed a partner. It’s just like when we start the school year. It is easy to keep the momentum of moving forward without much support from your colleagues, but as the year continues, we need our fellow teachers to help cheer us on and support us as things get tough.
I am not going to deny that last mile was hard, but it was enjoyable because I had a running partner to help me. We didn’t complain about the weather or the wind or anything else we didn’t have control of instead we focused on the task at hand of putting one foot in front of the other. When we find our tribe, it is essential to keep this in mind. Celebrate and focus on what we have control of.
After this experience, I am still not a fan of running, but I will add it to workout rotation.
Little Bit and I were getting ready to leave for the school. She asked to put on my sunglasses as we were heading out the door. She quickly put them on and smiled. Lit Bit asked me how did she look. I promptly took a picture so she could see. Her first response was, “I look like you!” I asked her, “Is that a good thing?” Without skipping a beat, she said, “No!” At this moment, I had a choice to be hurt about her response or lean in ask her why. I chose the latter. Little Bit explained clearly that she did not want people to be confused about who was who. In her mind, it was a logical explanation.
I tell you this story because we often hear the first response and react. We need to take the time and ask the more important question, “Why?” I believe that when we do this, the other person gets a chance to share their reasoning and the listener begins to understand more.
This week I challenge you to go ahead and take the time to lean in and ask why. The response may surprise you.
I have been heartbroken lately with another school shooting. The loss of life is something that I don’t take lightly. I saw the posts from teachers coming back into their classroom and pondering what would they do in that situation. Where would they move the students? What if it was one of their students who lost their life? The pain is real and raw for many.
As time has passed, I have started to see two different messages bubble up on my social media feed. The first group can be summarized as blame. I guarantee that there is enough blame for everyone and it won’t prevent this from happening again. If anything, it is another way that we are dividing our nation more. Dear Readers, you know we can do better.
While the other group gives me hope. These posts suggest action that needs to be taken. Unfortunately, many assume that this is the only approach that will work. This idea that either we do this or that creates a false choice. We can and should do everything that will save our students’ and teachers’ lives.
So dear reader, it is time to embrace the power of AND. So when a friend, colleague, teacher or neighbor says, ” I think we need better mental health care.” I want all of us to respond with acceptance and ask how they are going to help make that happen. We don’t need to spend our time arguing we just need to take actions that will move us forward.
Parkland, my thoughts and prayers are with you, AND more importantly, my actions are too.
Reading that influenced this post:
As I was driving to the gym on Sunday, I began to think how I see myself regarding fitness. I realized that treat myself as an athlete. I make decisions to ensure I get to the gym and eat somewhat healthy. I don’t make apologies for these choices, and I am confident in them. I think I would say that about most of the labels that are attached to me.
One label I want to own is writer or blogger. These words are not words I would use to introduce myself, and because of that, I do not always make plans to guarantee that I write frequently. When you sit down and talk to me, you would find that I have excuses why I did not write. The brilliant ideas are floating in my head, but I struggle to sit down and write. I honestly believe that if I shift my language and put on the label of writer, I will write more.
Dear readers, I bring this up to you because our students come to us with labels, either externally or internally imposed. Students who see themselves as artists are going to engage in the art classroom while the student who does not see themselves as an artist may not or even disrupt the class.
More importantly, how about that kid? You know the one that had that reputation since Kindergarten. She knows she is that kid. Our actions give it away. If our actions don’t, she will work hard to own this label.
As we get to know our students, our job is to create an opportunity where students can see beyond where they are now and add labels that will impact their future positively.
Reading and Listening that inspired this post:
This word has been swirling in my head for a while. I wasn’t confident that this would make sense and struggled how with how it would look like on social media. I had a couple of things that I saw that cemented that this is my word.
First, a Jon Gordon tweet suggested that your one word should inspire three actions every day. I started to think about my word and the steps it would take.
Second, I saw all my previous One Words. I realized that I became better because I used that word to focus my efforts. I committed to exercising and writing. I started to focus on what really matters.
So this year, I commit to being HUMBLE. I will be humble by:
- Listening to understand not to respond.
- Striving for partnerships with others.
- Seeking knowledge from all sources.