Yesterday as I was casually getting ready for an after school activity, a teacher approached me and muttered that she was “so tired of the lazy kids at this school”. So many thoughts and potential responses ran through my mind. What I wanted to say were things like,
- “Whatever you believe will be.”
- “Perception becomes truth.”
- “The traits we despise in others are the traits we most fear finding in ourselves.”
- “What does lazy mean to you? Are you confusing it with lack of relevance and boredom on the part of the students?”
- “Have you ever asked your students what kind of work they would like to do?”
- “What is it about “laziness” that really gets to you?”
Yet I remained silent. A coward. I wasn’t the thought leader I wanted to be. I didn’t stand up for the kids. I didn’t respond with compassion for the teacher. I know this problem is a complex onion with many layers and that this teacher (who is typically wonderful & caring) was probably just tired and frustrated. She’ll come into today with a smile on her face to try again, as she has for over 40 years.
I guess I was doubly bothered by this comment because I had just heard from parents in a “coffee hour” that morning that their kids were complaining about teachers saying things like, “You guys are all behavior problems, immature and not ready for high school,” and “I can’t believe you haven’t learned this before,” and “We can’t do that because you aren’t responsible enough.”
I left the parent meeting with a pit in my stomach wondering how to best address teachers who use negative language with their students. I left the dance class with a pit in my stomach wondering how to best address teachers who use negative language with their colleagues. As a program coordinator/consultant (and former principal), I have learned to pick my battles and to have compassion and empathy for the challenges facing both teachers and students. I try to stay positive, catch people doing things right and to model the way as much as possible. However, yesterday I feel like I missed an opportunity to stand up for kids and to support a colleague.
What’s a girl to do but write about it and hope her really smart PLN has some great advice….