It Is More Important That I Like Them
Fall quarter begins on September 23 at Pacific Union College, the school at which I teach in the teacher credential program, which means that two weeks from today I will be teaching. Next week there will be quite a few campus meetings and time will feel crunched. Therefore, I thought it wise to get going on office organization and class preparation today. I attacked some stacks of stuff on top of my file cabinets, stacks that had been resting there for some time (it turns out), and re-discovered some papers, folders, and articles that were actually worthwhile in some way. One of the sheets of paper I ran across was some notes I took from a presentation I attended. It is written in my handwriting, but I had no name or no date anywhere on the paper. I remember being impressed with the talk, but I can’t remember who gave it. If one of you shared these thoughts, let me know. In any case, I have typed out my notes from the talk below –
What have you not learned yet?
What can I offer you?
It takes three years to figure out if you’re in the right place, doing it well, etc.
Give yourself permission to fail; and then to fail again.
Be reflective about your teaching.
I felt I couldn’t do anything well.
It is more important that I like them, rather than focusing on them liking me.
What mountain are you willing to die on?
One week does not a year make.
God does not call us to be successful; He calls us to be faithful.
#1 rule of teaching – Do no harm.
The one about it being “important that I like them” really jumped out at me. Of course, it oozes and overflows with choice theory. We can choose and nurture our own thoughts and behavior, but that is where our control stops.
It is amazing how much energy we can put into worrying about being liked by others. New teachers especially have to come to grips with this. Until they do it can be so draining trying to manipulate others into behaving a certain way. Being a teacher takes real strength. It takes strength to like students when they aren’t very likeable.
It can be easy to skip over the liking part and focus on having a spirit of love. The thing is, liking is loving in action. Liking is the “hi” in the morning, even when you know you’re not going to get an enthusiastic hi in return. Liking is talking about the football game and making small talk. Liking is being interested in another person and the things they are interested in. Liking is wishing another person a good evening and reminding them that you are looking forward to seeing them tomorrow.
I really believe that some students have never experienced an unconditional liking relationship. As their teacher or significant adult in their life, you may be the first to treat them like they are special and that they have a purpose in this world. They may be used to being ignored, resented, yelled at, manipulated, and controlled. It may be a shock to them to have someone say, “good morning,”
Which of the statements from the notes speaks to you? I’d love to hear from you.
Remember September 21!
If you live within driving distance of PUC, think about joining us for a choice theory study group!
Where: Foothills Elementary (just down the hill from PUC)
When: Sept. 21, 2:00-4:00 pm
Attend services at one of the local churches (The Haven, next to the St. Helena Hospital, is close and they provide a lunch each week after church) and then head over to Foothills for choice theory ideas and support.
Hi Jim! Last night I had a book group meeting (re Beryl Markham) and one of our members is a retired teacher who has been called out of retirement and is working a 6 month contract for a teacher on leave. Yesterday one of the little kids said to her: “”You know Mrs. Franzoni, you are really smart and you listen to us and one day you will make a great teacher!” I guess the little guy thought Deb was an intern rather than a veteran. At any rate, the comment really tickled Deb and when I saw her last night, she was still chuckling over it…. Sent from my iPad
Even young students recognize the value and importance of positive relationships. Great story!
Like isn’t a fuzzy word. It implies joy, agreement and satisfaction. Is liking a choice that we can make? Yes, some folks are likable. But some folks…. I feel blessed by the moderate amount of “growing up” that has allowed me to take joy in the “difficult” people in my day. Thanks Jim, your post has made me realize that this is the primarily the result of choices. How I approach my day, how I respond to stressors, where my attention is, am I rested, am I thankful for the many blessings I’m given are just a few things I need to decide about.
My heart resonates with “do no harm.” I would have included the more complete phrase “First, do no harm.” Our first choice of approach with our students is to be ever so careful with their hearts and minds. I have often repeated this mantra to myself when I am feeling a bit edgy about a student’s behavior. I am responsible for “first, doing no harm.”
As for all the other pithy notes, they each could generate a lovely discussion and inspiration to mindfully improve our teaching practice, both towards our students and ourselves.
This sounds like something from Tom Amatto’s Bible Methods class.
Two of the statements jump out at me:
It takes three years to know if you’re in the right place…
One week does not a year make…
Two important thoughts for me to remember today as I head back to school this morning. Thanks!