I am shocked when I walk in a classroom and I have to use punitive measures to get students to participate and do what they are supposed to do. The teacher to student relationship is a basic systemic condition that can be traced back as far as human lives have existed. As I reflect, I realize the problem isn’t the relationship; it is that throughout my professional life, I’m not confident in expressing and identifying what I expect out of others. I feel like I’m always on the back end of a situation, using punishment as a means of control. I know I can’t keep going on this way and I have to discover a new way to move forward. So, I have to ask myself, what is it I expect out of those around me, students and colleagues.
I expect those around me to be:
I know this is a lofty goal and a large order. How am I supposed to get people to act in this way? How do I keep from being too manipulative? What do I do about the people around me who don’t exhibit these qualities? The first thing I need to do is outline exactly what I think each of these seven characteristics looks like.
- Affable- By affable, I mean that they are approachable and that they listen. I expect students to give eye contact and I will return the favor. I also expect my colleagues to embody what it means to be there as support. I will never call on someone at work to do something that they don’t want to do but I expect them to be approachable and listen to a problem. If they feel moved, act with me, not for me.
- Congenial- Confrontation has its place but too often we get entrenched in our thoughts, feelings, wants and needs and we let arguments become the focus and rather than a medium for progress. In the course of a lesson or a meeting, the discourse has its place but confrontation just wastes time. I believe that the place for confrontation is not in public. It is to be handled in private and at moments when all parties can enter with a clear and free mind. Additionally, I expect people to take the needs of others into consideration. Ultimately, we have to take care of ourselves but, we can’t ignore those sitting right next to us.
- Focused-I struggle with this one. I want students to do the work I place in front of them and I expect my employer to stay out of my way and let me do my work. The reality is that in my job I have one clear goal and if the work doesn’t align to that goal, I need to back away. In a classroom, one clear goal for students is to grow up to be successful adults. I can promise students that I will work to help them become successful. At the same time, I expect myself to refrain from taking on tasks that are outside the scope of my mission at work.
- Confident- Nothing would make me happier than giving students and colleagues the chance to express how awesome they are but, there is so much doubt and self-harm. We sabotage ourselves and we take on too much in an effort to look better. We all need to learn to calm down, take a step back, be ourselves and be proud of who we are.
- Genuine-Don’t pretend. Don’t lie. Just be you. This is a personal failure of my own. I often find myself in situations where I cannot utilize my innate skills. I am at a point in my life where I want to just be myself at work. I am tired of pretending and I am tired of everyone else pretending too. Kids try to look better around their peers and adults do it too.
- Humble- No one is perfect and we all take on tasks that are too large. We are always trying to battle for our place in the sun but, the reality is that the sun is quite large and when we find our place in the sun we will usually burn.
- Honest- Don’t take abuse, be honest, stand up and advocate for your rights. But, this has to be done in an appropriate and constructive context. We don’t need to jump to extremes every time. Additionally, honesty doesn’t mean telling everyone, everything. It means saying what needs to be said to keep us all safe and healthy.
If these are the skills I want students to learn and that I want the people around me to possess then I need to do two things. I need to create a situation and a system where these skills are the only skills that lead to success. Additionally, I need to do my best to educate those around me on the expectations I hold. While this may be a challenge I think that everyone can get behind these seven expectations.
I plan to post images that exemplify these qualities to remind people of my personal mission. I plan to work to exemplify these qualities and I plan to give the people around me regular reminders. I also plan to write and release stories that demonstrate these qualities. Finally, I will use positive reinforcement to reward those who have done their best.