Sunday, March 12, 2017

Doctor's Orders!

While on site at Winton Woods Middle School last Wednesday, I was working with a teacher on "recommended practices" for her sub plans while she's away for a few weeks recovering from surgery. During our conversation, she told me that her knee had been hurting for quite some time, and her doctor seemed to constantly remind her of possible things she might do to prevent it from getting worse. Did she listen? Yes. Did she follow those doctor's orders? Not as much as she probably should have.  

Then, more recently at one of her appointments, her doctor finally said, "Look. You can't climb the stairs like you used to anymore. Your arthritis is causing the cartilage to break down that cushions the knee joint. .... " The conversation they had obviously continued on from there, but that was what she needed to hear to make a lifestyle change. Why? Because she had a direct picture of what has was happening to her very own body as a result of that one specific action.   But what about all of those other times she'd been given recommended practices to help ease her pain? Why not listen then? Well... they weren't presented the same way, were they? They presented as "good things to know" rather than "here's why and how it's affecting you" statements.

Without even thinking about it, we do this all the time in our classes:

  • "Submit your documents by Thursday"
  • "Speak louder, please"
  • "Show your work"
  • "Share your thoughts with your teammates"
  • etc. etc. etc.
So what do our students do? They try to turn things in on time but possibly let deadlines slide, attempt to speak up but never really ask the audience if they are more or less audible, show a few small notes of their thought process but nothing complete or organized, talk at their teammates instead of to their teammates, etc. That's right... they're trying to do right by you and themselves, but they don't know the greater purpose...the why... behind each of those statements you're tirelessly spouting out of your mouth! If you just followed those statements up with the purpose, perhaps they would feel like "doctor's ORDERS" vs "doctor's RECOMMENDATIONS"...
  • "Documents need to be submitted by Thursday for a thorough review by our community partner so they are able to offer you feedback by Monday morning. Due to the community partner's business schedule, they cannot accept documents beyond this deadline."
  •  "Speak louder, please. Those in the front two rows are able to hear you well, but your thoughtful messaging isn't able to be heard in the back corners of the room."
  • "Show your work so we can follow your full thought process while trying to determine how you arrived at your solution."
  • "Share your thoughts with your teammates so you can then reach a decision as a team. If you hold your thoughts in, they will move forward assuming you are on board and assign tasks to you based on the decision made...without your voice."
  • etc.
Admit it... at some point last week you became "so frustrated" because your students "just weren't getting it."  Of course they weren't! They are still trying to grasp the greater WHY/PURPOSE behind the outcomes you're trying to teach them. Speaking in terms of expectations without purpose feels like things that are "good to know" rather than "here's why and how it's affecting you." How will you change your framing this week? What purpose will you give to the statements that come out of your mouth? 

Peace, love, and teach with purpose,