My morning at home did not go smoothly. Little Bit did not want to wake up. I styled her hair and short time later she yanked it out. She had a meltdown about her hairstyle. I would like to say that I handled it like a champ, but we all know that some days we are not at a champion level.
As I thought about this interaction, I was reminded of a PD for beginning educators last Thursday when the presenter said, “It’s not about you. 95% of students do not think about you. It’s about them.” This has been an important mantra for me this idea that other’s behaviors are not about me. Let me give you a few examples:
- Dress code issues: The student who you constantly have to ask to put their hoodie down. He doesn’t keep putting it up to annoy you. There is a reason behind it. It could be it makes him feel safe or it may the only way he gets to hear his name during the day. We all do certain behaviors because it has a payoff.
- Tardiness: The student who arrives late is not doing it to annoy you. They may be avoiding the work or something as simple as something else was more exciting than class.
- Not Doing the Work: The student may find the work too easy or too hard. She may just want to think about something other than work.
I am sure my list could go on, but I tell you this because once we accept it is not about us, then we can get to the heart of the issue without a power struggle.
Thinking back to this morning’s interaction with my Little Bit, I made it about me. It this and other situations, I need to say to myself “It’s not about me.” Then I need to empathize and move situation forward.
Last week at the gym, I got down right irate(actually in my head-that would not be me to get hot). The instructor of the class said, “Earn your break.” It really annoyed me. Here am I sweating hard, lifting heavier weights, my heart rate above the goal area I didn’t need that right now. Can’t she see how hard I am working? By the screen, I could see that most of the class was pushing it hard as well. She was up on the platform walking back and forth. She really never got down to provide feedback.
I tell you that story because this type of frustration happens to many of our students. When faced with a similar situation, he/she may say something under his/her breath or get irate and disrupt the class.
Now, I have gone back and heard other instructors use the same phrase. I’ve come to the conclusion it is all about context. I didn’t get annoyed because the instructor was moving around the gym and giving specific feedback to others. I felt like she saw my hard work and was pushing me positively. I felt respected.
I also tell you this second part because the same student who might react in the first example may not react as negatively when context has changed. During the lesson, specific feedback was given and in the end the student felt respected.
Knowing my experience with this one phrase. I am really going to focus on the context of my off the cuff remarks. What may seem like nothing to me may be really huge for someone else.
This past week, I spent a couple of nights a church leadership retreat. This line has stayed with me:
I could spend some time talking about the New Testament and the idea of lost, but that is better left to others. Instead, I want to dig into this as it relates to school.
How quick are we to blame the student if he/she does get it the first time? We might say things like this about it:
- I taught it, they didn’t learn it.
- They have so much potential, but they don’t use it.
- It’s no their fault. They have a rough home life.
Other times we blame the parents or society for the problem. In reality, we must be like the shepherd and be relentless to find the lost sheep in the Bible. We cannot blame student for being lost.
In addition to parents and students, we may also blame other educators. I know, that at times, I am guilty of not being understanding of how someone does not____. This may be the teacher who is nervous about trying a new strategy.
So how do we stop blaming and start finding the lost. We start with empathy and share what we know. When “the lost” has been found, we need to celebrate it.
Over break, my body decided to rebel against me. I had great plans to accomplish some important work instead I spent most of the time being sick. I used that time to catch up with my Feedly and reflecting on last year’s one word. This video from Seth Godin hit me over the head and I knew I had found my word for 2017. Go watch the video. I’ll wait.
In this video, he talks about the importance of caring enough and being brave enough to ship before it is ready. This line is key, “Will you choose to matter?”
I have chosen Matter as my word. In the past few years, I have really focused on the skills and steps I need to do to be better at work and at home. It was just like Seth discussed about all of the clarinet lessons he took.
So how will this translate in my everyday life?
- Health/Wellness: I will try out new workouts. I am ready to think about a 5 K. I will make it matter.
- Faith: I know the prayers, beliefs and rituals that go with my faith. I will go beyond and be the music that other want to hear. I will care deeply and be very brave as I really dig into my relationship with God.
- Work/professional life: I will work to ship things before other may be ready. I will work to innovate now.
- Home/personal: I care even more and be there. I want my family to realize that they matter.
I could continue the list, but then it becomes one more thing. Simply put, I am done taking lessons and will begin to play.