I have been traveling and working with various PD presenters this summer. Most have been wonderful and gracious-willing to answer my questions give of themselves during lunch and at breaks. This is not a story about them instead it is about the other one. The story I am about to tell is not about the person, but about me and my reaction. To quote Dragnet: “The story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
I was so excited to get to work with this particular person. I googled Gabe and knew I was going to learn so much from him. When I came in the morning to help set up, I reviewed the request to make sure everything was done just right. Then Gabe got on his phone as everything else was getting set up. I learned so much as he talked. I was amazed.
When Gabe gave us work time, he did not leave his podium. Gabe spent the time checking his phone. During the lunch break, we had set up some our teacher leaders to meet with Gabe and hopefully learn from him. As we let him know where we would be eating lunch, Gabe said he needed some downtime. When Gabe came to lunch, he only answered questions and really didn’t interact with us. I off-hand mentioned that I wrote something similar to what I heard. I felt completely blown off by Gabe’s reaction.
Originally, when asked what I thought of Gabe’s PD. I spoke highly of the PD and then added a BUT. I thought he was a snob.
A couple of days later, I was setting up for another PD. I hear someone call out my name. I didn’t recognize the person, she identified herself as someone I went to college with. I had seen in over 15 years. I talked quickly, but really blew her off. I was busy. I needed to accomplish this task.
As I put these two interactions together, I realize that I was quick to judge Gabe and his behavior. I quickly went to a moral failing on his part, but I did the exact same behavior. I went straight to blaming the circumstances instead of a moral fault of my own.
Why did Gabe behave that way? So I did what we all need to do is put myself in his shoes. I know that summer is brutal for PD presenters. This is the time when they travel the most because at least you don’t have to pay for guest teachers. Also school is out, so this road warrior may not be at home to help lift the load. This alone could explain it. Also he could have had to still respond to work as he was away or family emergency was occurring. When I did this, I realized that Gabe is probably not a snob.
I wonder if the my college classmate assumed what I assumed about Gabe or did she empathized with me and gave me the benefit of the doubt.
So my take-aways:
- Empathize-Don’t assume that bad behavior is the result of “bad moral compass.” More often than not something else is at work. I need to assume good intentions.
- Communicate-When a person approaches me during these busy times, give them the respect-listen. If I am not able to, make sure the person knows why I am not able to. If I don’t share my voice, then others will fill the silence with their assumptions.
- Be Kind-If I get the chance to do something like Gabe, be gracious and enthusiastic.
So if you are reading this Gabe, I hope you are not offended. Thank you for teaching me so many lessons that day. I will work on applying them in my life.
My college class mate will be getting an e-mail from me tomorrow to tell how excited that we are working in the same district and I look forward to seeing her around.