Tag: Forgiveness

No one is perfect. Not one of us. But if we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of thinking we have to act perfect. 

I find it puzzling how students sometimes have the idea that teachers/principals/educators are somehow above making mis…

Read More 7 Benefits of Apologizing to Your Students



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about negative student behaviors and how we respond effectively. 


Here are five ideas that have been on my mind…


1. Judge behaviors, not intentions.



It can be really easy to become judgmental about negative student behavior, especially when it’s repetitive. It’s always appropriate to be corrective about non-learning behaviors, but it isn’t right to place ourselves in a position of greater worth than the student. We might think, I would never do that. It’s like we think we’re superior in some way. And then we make generalizations about their motives based on the behavior. We act as if we know what’s going on in the student’s heart. 


That’s the type of judgment that causes resentment and steals dignity. Judgement isn’t always a bad thing. We actually know having good judgement is a good thing. That’s how we know when something is right or wrong. But relationships get crazy when we start to judge motives. That’s not ours to judge. Judge behaviors. They are observable and there are standards that must be held. Don’t judge intentions. We can never know another person’s heart.


2. We make mistakes too, just like our students.



Every negative behavior a student exhibits is probably closely resembling a negative behavior I’ve exhibited in my own life at one time or another. If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably like I’m looking in the mirror. I may not have done that exact thing to the degree that it was done, but I’ve struggled with that issue at some point and acted in a similar manner. There are only so many categories of mistakes, and I’m pretty sure I’ve covered them all at one time or another.


3. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship.



Number two is really important because it reminds me to have empathy, to be understanding, and to work with a student through the issue instead of towering over them and being iron-fisted about the issue. We want to correct the issue and preserve the relationship. We need to walk through this with the student.


4. Are there certain student behaviors that really push my buttons more than others?



The things that push my buttons the most might be the things that I actually struggle with the most. It’s ironic, but often we are less forgiving and less patient with the behaviors that are most like the ones we struggle with. Think about an issue that is a struggle for you. Are you especially hard on students when they make a mistake in this area? Maybe not if they make the mistake in the same way you do. But if they make it in a different way or to a greater degree, look out. It might push all your buttons.


5. Change the environment to help the child change his or her own behavior.



When students show up poorly and have behaviors that are destructive, I need to also look at the environmental factors at play. If I was in the same environment as the student, might I also act in this way? What can be changed about the environment to help the student make different choices? That does not relieve the student of responsibility or accountability for bad decisions, but I don’t want to just enforce accountability. I want to help create conditions so the student will succeed next time.


I think we could all stand to be a little more patient with our students. Heck, sometimes we need to be a little more patient with ourselves too. Mistakes are opportunities to learn more about who we are and to reflect and become stronger, more caring people overall.


I would love to hear your thoughts as always. What’s on your mind after reading this post? Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More When Student Behavior Is Like Looking in the Mirror



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



These tips are actually true for conversations with just about anyone, not only students. Too often I think we avoid having a difficult conversation about a topic because we aren’t sure how it will go. We aren’t sure if it will be productive, so we just remain silent.



Or, on the other hand, we know the topic might evoke some strong emotions, so we come at the conversation forcefully, from a position of dominance. It’s the “my way or the highway” approach. That might get compliance from students, but it won’t build trust or stronger relationships. Underneath it all, there will be a kid who resents you.



Neither of these approaches is successful. It’s not good to be silent and avoid the topic. And it’s not good to be aggressive and overbearing either. A healthy relationship is build on mutual trust that comes through respectful dialogue.



Here are five tips for having difficult conversations that create shared meaning and understanding.



1. Keep Dialogue Open



Let the student know that you are willing to listen and work together to solve the problem. Ask if they are willing to listen to your thoughts too. Keep the focus on the issue and not on sweeping generalizations like “You always…” or “You never…” statements. You might even ask the student, “How can we have this conversation in a way that is positive and helpful?”



2. Make Respect a Top Priority



Let the student know you believe it’s possible to solve any problem if both parties are respectful of one another. Let the student know you will never intentionally disrespect him or her. Let them know you want to hear what they think about the issue. The words we use are powerful and communicate our level of respect. Your body language and tone of voice are equally important.



3. Describe Your Intentions



You might say, “I’m willing to discuss this as long as it takes until we both feel good about how it’s resolved.” Let the student know you’re wanting a solution he or she can feel good about too. We’re aiming for a WIN/WIN outcome, not my way or the highway. As the teacher, you don’t have to prove you’re in charge. You ARE in charge. You don’t have to prove it. Work cooperatively with students to seek WIN/WIN solutions.



4. Be Curious, Not Furious



Ask questions to understand the student’s perspective. Be curious about what they are experiencing. Say, “Tell me more” or “Go on” to show you are interested in hearing the details. Paraphrase what they say to you to show you’re listening. My biggest mistake is talking too much. When I’m “telling” a student what I think should happen, I’m missing the opportunity to listen and better understand the student’s perspective.

5. Avoid Countering



Countering results in arguments. We start debating the facts. We build our case. We prove our points. It’s about “being right.” Try to avoid this trap. Try to stay curious and avoid countering. Spend more time listening. The goal is to get to a place where both parties let their guard down and work together cooperatively.



6. Timing is Everything



In my first few years as a principal, I would sometimes choose horrible timing to try to address an issue. I thought it had to be resolved immediately. Usually, that’s not true. Most of the time it can wait until cooler heads prevail. If I sense there is no way to have safe dialogue in the moment, I’ll step away temporarily. And then I’ll resume the conversation in a different location in a different time. This works much better than allowing a situation to escalate.



7. Focus on the Future



Every kid needs a fresh start every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Take inventory of the current situation, but then focus on the future. Where do we want our relationship to go from here? How can we work together to make the future brighter in this situation? What are we trying to accomplish? What will it look like if we are successful in resolving this problem?



Some people might view these tips as “going easy, or “being soft” or “having low expectations.” I would completely disagree. We must have firm boundaries. What’s easy is avoiding the conversation entirely. What’s easy is being silent. What’s easy is also using threats or power to get your way. What’s hard is listening to a student, understanding their perspective, and guiding them in a way that is cooperative and respectful. We MUST have boundaries, and we MUST challenge behavior that is harmful to learning. But the way we do it can either build trust or destroy it. 



What are some of your strategies for having difficult conversations with students? I know you have some great tips to share. I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 7 Tips for Difficult Conversations with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

      

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students



Relationships are essential to learning. Kids connect more to learning when they feel more connection to their teacher. A great classroom environment begins by building great relationships. 



So how do you build great relationships with your students? Here are 5 tips I promise will make your relationships stronger. 



What if everyone in your school tried to get a little better at these five things every day? Wow! That would be an amazing school culture.



1. Connect with your students.



Learn your students’ names…on the first day. Greet them at the door. Make eye contact. Smile. Ask them questions. Ask them their opinion about a movie or type of music or your teaching. Joke with them. Offer fist bumps and high fives. Know at least two things about each student that have nothing to do with school. 



2. Invest in your students.



Believe in your students. Look for opportunities to affirm their strengths. Build them up. Show your approval. You will have far more influence if they know you’re in their corner. Plant seeds in their mind of the great things they will do in their future. Treat them like future world changers. “You’re going places. You’re going to do great things.” Then point out how their incredible strengths will take them far.



3. Personalize learning for your students.



Meet students where they are. Get to know their passions and look for opportunities to connect learning to those interests. Provide experiences that allow individual strengths and personality to shine. Place responsibility on your students and let them know you trust them. Never teach down to your students. Teach them in ways that empower them as learners. 

  • How often do your students have input on how they will learn?
  • How often do your students have input on what they will learn?
  • Are your students given opportunities to lead conversations?
  • Are your classroom goals developed by the teacher alone or in partnership with students?
  • Do your students have some time to pursue their own goals?
  • How often do you ask your students for feedback on their experience in your classroom?



4. Give time and attention to your students.



Notice when a student is having a bad day. Offer encouragement. Make eye contact. Stop and really listen. There are so many people and things clamoring for your attention. To give your attention to something is an amazing gift. Too often we make our plans a higher priority than our purpose. Our purpose might be to connect with our students, but what about our plans for today? Can we let go of those for a couple of minutes?



You can also give time and attention by making that positive phone call home, writing that note of encouragement, or attending that ballgame or concert after school.



5. Forgive your students.



Every kid deserves a fresh start in your classroom every day. Time spent holding onto yesterday means less time moving forward today. Forgiveness protects the relationship. It allows you to set aside those frustrating moments with a kid and believe today can be better. It’s part of being able to enjoy your students…all of them. They’re kids and they’re not always going to show up well in your classroom. If you enjoy them and take delight in them, even with their imperfections, you’ll feel better about yourself and enjoy teaching far more.



I think we can all continue to grow in our ability to build stronger relationships. What ideas do you have for building relationships in your classroom or school? How will you grow stronger in this area? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

      

Read More 5 Tips for Building Great Relationships with Students





If you’ve followed my blog, you might know I really like to refer to classroom management as classroom leadership. But that’s not how we typically think of it.



Regardless of what we call it, it’s challenging. It’s one of the toughest things for early career teachers to get a handle on. And even seasoned teachers will have their fair share of challenges and not know how to respond in every situation.



It really has to be an ongoing process of learning and growth. No one ever has it all figured out.



So if you’re struggling with student behaviors, give yourself a break. Keep working at it. Learn from others. Study different methods. And reflect on your own failures and successes.



In this post, I’m looking at some of the BIG mistakes that can happen when a teacher is frustrated or has a lapse in judgement. It’s important to think about these in advance to plan for these NEVER to happen. When they do, it undermines the development of a positive classroom and healthy culture of learning.



These behaviors are harmful to kids and can harm your ability to develop a respectful, orderly classroom environment.



9 Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Classroom Management



1. Painting a child into a corner.



Your most challenging students will often try to engage the teacher in power struggles. A skilled teacher can avoid these high stakes moments. The goal is to stop a disruptive behavior while also keeping the student in class. It’s important to avoid a showdown between student and teacher. These situations end up with everyone losing. The teacher doesn’t have to win in the moment. The situation needs to be addressed in the moment, but fully resolving a problem can happen at a later time. After some time passes, the results are often much better than escalating the situation when emotions are hot. 



2. Handling private matters publicly.



Students don’t want to lose face in front of their peers. You can always delay and say, “Let’s talk about this later.” Just be sure to follow up as you promised. If a student feels disrespected or belittled in front of others, it will not end well. Try to keep tough conversations private. The tone will often be much different when there is not an audience.



3. Failing to give a kid a fresh start.



We all want to have an opportunity for a fresh start. We don’t want to be judged by our worst moments. Our students need forgiveness too. So after an issue is resolved, let the student know they have a clean slate. Today is a new day. Let them know you believe in them and expect them to do great.



4. Using cutting sarcasm.



Sarcasm can be very dangerous. I’ve seen it used in a way that is not threatening and is just playful, but sarcasm can be degrading and manipulating. The best advice is to not use sarcasm at all. 



5. Speaking poorly of someone’s friends or family.




Never criticize a student’s friends or family members. You can certainly stand up for what’s right, but don’t pass judgments on people. It’s also very important to never talk badly about a student when they are not present. If you wouldn’t make a comment in front of that student’s mother or grandmother, you probably shouldn’t say it to a group of students or another teacher. If your harsh comment gets back to the student, it will be difficult to ever repair the relationship.



6. Speaking poorly of another staff member.



Never criticize another staff member in front of students as this creates a toxic environment. And, always defend a colleague if students are being critical. Even fair criticism isn’t fair when it’s shared at the wrong time and location. Tell your students if they have a concern with another teacher they should go talk to that person directly. If you have a concern with another teacher, you too should speak to them directly about it and not complain about them behind their back.



7. Losing control of your own behavior.



Always remember you’re the adult and a professional. You have to stay in control of yourself and your actions. If you act badly, it will make it much more difficult to address the student’s misbehavior. The student and the parents will be focused on what you did instead of focusing the responsibility on the student’s own actions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked to help a student reflect on their own bad behavior, but they are focused on what the teacher did instead. Sometimes that happens when the teacher was completely upright. But sometimes it’s because the teacher showed up poorly in the situation.



8. Comparing a student to a sibling or another student. 



Avoid comparing students to one another or to a brother or sister. These types of judgments chip away at dignity. You wouldn’t want to be subjected to public comparisons with another teacher. Students don’t like this either. Even comments like “Your sister was so smart or funny” that seem positive may chip away at a student’s dignity. People want to be noticed for who they are and not compared to someone else.



9. Rushing to judgment without listening.



This one encompasses so much. It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions in the course of a day working with students. Teachers make so many decisions. I shared recently about a situation where I really embarrassed myself by making a quick judgment in a situation. The key is slow down and approach problems with a sense of curiosity. Work to understand what is going on with the child, what needs they are trying to meet, or why they are not successful even when expectations are clear and consistent. In a recent post, I shared 21 phrases that can help with these conversations.



Of course, there are many other factors involved in building a positive classroom culture. What are some of your thoughts? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Classroom Management





If you’ve followed my blog, you might know I really like to refer to classroom management as classroom leadership. But that’s not how we typically think of it.



Regardless of what we call it, it’s challenging. It’s one of the toughest things for early career teachers to get a handle on. And even seasoned teachers will have their fair share of challenges and not know how to respond in every situation.



It really has to be an ongoing process of learning and growth. No one ever has it all figured out.



So if you’re struggling with student behaviors, give yourself a break. Keep working at it. Learn from others. Study different methods. And reflect on your own failures and successes.



In this post, I’m looking at some of the BIG mistakes that can happen when a teacher is frustrated or has a lapse in judgement. It’s important to think about these in advance to plan for these NEVER to happen. When they do, it undermines the development of a positive classroom and healthy culture of learning.



These behaviors are harmful to kids and can harm your ability to develop a respectful, orderly classroom environment.



9 Mistakes That Will Sabotage Your Classroom Management



1. Painting a child into a corner.



Your most challenging students will often try to engage the teacher in power struggles. A skilled teacher can avoid these high stakes moments. The goal is to stop a disruptive behavior while also keeping the student in class. It’s important to avoid a showdown between student and teacher. These situations end up with everyone losing. The teacher doesn’t have to win in the moment. The situation needs to be addressed in the moment, but fully resolving a problem can happen at a later time. After some time passes, the results are often much better than escalating the situation when emotions are hot. 



2. Handling private matters publicly.



Students don’t want to lose face in front of their peers. You can always delay and say, “Let’s talk about this later.” Just be sure to follow up as you promised. If a student feels disrespected or belittled in front of others, it will not end well. Try to keep tough conversations private. The tone will often be much different when there is not an audience.



3. Failing to give a kid a fresh start.



We all want to have an opportunity for a fresh start. We don’t want to be judged by our worst moments. Our students need forgiveness too. So after an issue is resolved, let the student know they have a clean slate. Today is a new day. Let them know you believe in them and expect them to do great.



4. Using cutting sarcasm.



Sarcasm can be very dangerous. I’ve seen it used in a way that is not threatening and is just playful, but sarcasm can be degrading and manipulating. The best advice is to not use sarcasm at all. 



5. Speaking poorly of someone’s friends or family.




Never criticize a student’s friends or family members. You can certainly stand up for what’s right, but don’t pass judgments on people. It’s also very important to never talk badly about a student when they are not present. If you wouldn’t make a comment in front of that student’s mother or grandmother, you probably shouldn’t say it to a group of students or another teacher. If your harsh comment gets back to the student, it will be difficult to ever repair the relationship.



6. Speaking poorly of another staff member.



Never criticize another staff member in front of students as this creates a toxic environment. And, always defend a colleague if students are being critical. Even fair criticism isn’t fair when it’s shared at the wrong time and location. Tell your students if they have a concern with another teacher they should go talk to that person directly. If you have a concern with another teacher, you too should speak to them directly about it and not complain about them behind their back.



7. Losing control of your own behavior.



Always remember you’re the adult and a professional. You have to stay in control of yourself and your actions. If you act badly, it will make it much more difficult to address the student’s misbehavior. The student and the parents will be focused on what you did instead of focusing the responsibility on the student’s own actions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked to help a student reflect on their own bad behavior, but they are focused on what the teacher did instead. Sometimes that happens when the teacher was completely upright. But sometimes it’s because the teacher showed up poorly in the situation.



8. Comparing a student to a sibling or another student. 



Avoid comparing students to one another or to a brother or sister. These types of judgments chip away at dignity. You wouldn’t want to be subjected to public comparisons with another teacher. Students don’t like this either. Even comments like “Your sister was so smart or funny” that seem positive may chip away at a student’s dignity. People want to be noticed for who they are and not compared to someone else.



9. Rushing to judgment without listening.



This one encompasses so much. It’s easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions in the course of a day working with students. Teachers make so many decisions. I shared recently about a situation where I really embarrassed myself by making a quick judgment in a situation. The key is slow down and approach problems with a sense of curiosity. Work to understand what is going on with the child, what needs they are trying to meet, or why they are not successful even when expectations are clear and consistent. In a recent post, I shared 21 phrases that can help with these conversations.



Of course, there are many other factors involved in building a positive classroom culture. What are some of your thoughts? Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More 9 Mistakes That Sabotage Your Classroom Management





I’ve been planning to write this post for the past two years. That’s right. It’s been that long. I’m not sure why I didn’t write it sooner. But the events of this weekend swiftly and certainly moved these ideas off the sidelines.



Friday night we had home football. There is always some stress associated with each home game. Our admin team often jokes about how much easier the road games are. There are just so many things that can go wrong with large crowds. On top of that, I was at the end of a long week and physically tired. That’s typical for Friday night, right?



So I noticed a Twitter post after halftime that tagged our school. I knew the individual who posted it and have a very good relationship with him, although we haven’t interacted that often. 



But I quickly became offended by the post. How could this person publicly criticize the school? He should know better than that. He manages people and events and must understand the challenges that come with that. Social media is not the place to air your concerns, at least not initially. Come talk to me. Give me a chance to solve the problem.



So…



I quickly fired off a text message to the individual expressing my frustration and disappointment.



Then came the reply, “Should I delete it?”



“Well, of course you should,” I thought.



I responded in another message ramping up my indignation.



And then when his next reply came, I got it. He clarified and all of the sudden, it was clear. It hit me all at once. It almost took the air out of me. He didn’t mean it that way! I took it wrong!



In my haste, I completely misunderstood the comment. I missed it completely.



I went back and read it again. Any other person reading the Tweet would NOT have taken it the way I did. I had started climbing the assumption ladder and had gone straight to the top rung.



Time to own my mistake. My very embarrassing mistake.



I sent my apologies. I tried to explain. I told him he did nothing wrong. I should know better. It’s totally on me. I’m sorry. I felt terrible.



Fortunately, the person on the other end was gracious in accepting my apology. Looking back, I can’t even believe I made this mistake. I practice these skills every day. Not assuming. Trying to understand the other person’s perspective. Not jumping to conclusions.




Retrieved: http://metothepowerofwe.com/me-to-the-power-of-we/assume-dangerous-act/





So how does this happen?



A couple of years ago I read the book Crucial Conversations. It is the best thing I’ve ever read about effective communication when the stakes are high, when there might be strong opposing thoughts or opinions.



One part in particular is so important for us in keeping conversations safe. We have to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. Here are a few of the big ideas I took from the book.



Stories Cause Feelings



Someone else doesn’t make you mad. You get angry because of the story you tell yourself. “I feel bad because of my story, not your actions.” Emotions don’t settle in like fog. Others don’t make you mad. You make you mad. You tell yourself a story, and the story leads to the emotional response. Once these stories take hold, they have a life of their own.



Avoid Silence or Violence



To keep good dialogue, we have to keep safety in the conversation. If we lose safety, the conversation will turn to one or the other or both parties holding back and not being honest or lashing out and taking cheap shots. Neither silence nor violence is a healthy response. We want to develop shared meaning and be totally honest. We want to learn from the conversation, not be right or wrong.



Stories Are How We Explain Why, How, and What Is Happening To Us



So even when presented with exactly the same set of circumstances, we will determine if it is positive or negative based on the story we tell ourselves. Our story is how we attach significance to these events. We decide the level of significance based on the story we tell.



Many Possible Responses



For every set of circumstances, there is not just one way to respond. My emotions are NOT the only valid response. So just because such and such happens to me doesn’t mean I have to respond in a certain way. There are many possible responses.



Slow Down



The thing that got me in trouble was how quickly I settled on the story in my mind based on the Tweet I was reading. I attached a certain meaning almost immediately. I didn’t consider any other possibilities. Several things had happened earlier that primed me for this response, but no matter, I still wouldn’t have failed in communicating if I would’ve slowed down or even consulted with someone else before drawing conclusions.



Three Stories



We tend to tell ourselves three types of stories to explain things we don’t like. We also use these stories to justify our own bad behavior.



Victim Stories – “It’s not my fault.”

Villain Stories – “It’s all your fault.”

Helpless Stories – “There’s nothing else I can do.”



Stories Result in a Path to Action



1. See/hear (facts)

2. Tell a story (interpretation of facts)

3. Feel (emotions)

4. Act (choose a response)



Our path to action may seem reasonable and certain, but if it is based on a story and a feeling, we may act in ways that are not helpful. I saw the Tweet on Friday night and immediately told myself a story. Then I felt upset and even angry. And that led to the awkward text message conversation that ensued. Oh my…



So this is really practical stuff that we can apply daily. In fact, the entire book has great wisdom for educators. We deal with so many crucial conversations. It happens all day, every day. It’s important to develop these skills.



It’s so important to remember there are the facts and then there are the stories we tell ourselves based on the facts. To close, here are four questions to ask that can help to avoid the crazy dance of some of our stories.



1. Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?

2. Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this? This one would have stopped me cold on Friday night.

3. What do I really want?

4. What would I do right now if I really wanted these results?



I encourage you to read Crucial Conversations. I still mess it up sometimes (obviously), but the book was really helpful for me in dealing with difficult situations. Have you noticed yourself telling stories and jumping to conclusions? Maybe with student behaviors? Or colleagues? Are you retreating to silence or resorting to violence in your conversations? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Facts and the Stories We Tell Ourselves Based on the Facts





I’ve been planning to write this post for the past two years. That’s right. It’s been that long. I’m not sure why I didn’t write it sooner. But the events of this weekend swiftly and certainly moved these ideas off the sidelines.



Friday night we had home football. There is always some stress associated with each home game. Our admin team often jokes about how much easier the road games are. There are just so many things that can go wrong with large crowds. On top of that, I was at the end of a long week and physically tired. That’s typical for Friday night, right?



So I noticed a Twitter post after halftime that tagged our school. I knew the individual who posted it and have a very good relationship with him, although we haven’t interacted that often. 



But I quickly became offended by the post. How could this person publicly criticize the school? He should know better than that. He manages people and events and must understand the challenges that come with that. Social media is not the place to air your concerns, at least not initially. Come talk to me. Give me a chance to solve the problem.



So…



I quickly fired off a text message to the individual expressing my frustration and disappointment.



Then came the reply, “Should I delete it?”



“Well, of course you should,” I thought.



I responded in another message ramping up my indignation.



And then when his next reply came, I got it. He clarified and all of the sudden, it was clear. It hit me all at once. It almost took the air out of me. He didn’t mean it that way! I took it wrong!



In my haste, I completely misunderstood the comment. I missed it completely.



I went back and read it again. Any other person reading the Tweet would NOT have taken it the way I did. I had started climbing the assumption ladder and had gone straight to the top rung.



Time to own my mistake. My very embarrassing mistake.



I sent my apologies. I tried to explain. I told him he did nothing wrong. I should know better. It’s totally on me. I’m sorry. I felt terrible.



Fortunately, the person on the other end was gracious in accepting my apology. Looking back, I can’t even believe I made this mistake. I practice these skills every day. Not assuming. Trying to understand the other person’s perspective. Not jumping to conclusions.




Retrieved: http://metothepowerofwe.com/me-to-the-power-of-we/assume-dangerous-act/





So how does this happen?



A couple of years ago I read the book Crucial Conversations. It is the best thing I’ve ever read about effective communication when the stakes are high, when there might be strong opposing thoughts or opinions.



One part in particular is so important for us in keeping conversations safe. We have to be careful about the stories we tell ourselves. Here are a few of the big ideas I took from the book.



Stories Cause Feelings



Someone else doesn’t make you mad. You get angry because of the story you tell yourself. “I feel bad because of my story, not your actions.” Emotions don’t settle in like fog. Others don’t make you mad. You make you mad. You tell yourself a story, and the story leads to the emotional response. Once these stories take hold, they have a life of their own.



Avoid Silence or Violence



To keep good dialogue, we have to keep safety in the conversation. If we lose safety, the conversation will turn to one or the other or both parties holding back and not being honest or lashing out and taking cheap shots. Neither silence nor violence is a healthy response. We want to develop shared meaning and be totally honest. We want to learn from the conversation, not be right or wrong.



Stories Are How We Explain Why, How, and What Is Happening To Us



So even when presented with exactly the same set of circumstances, we will determine if it is positive or negative based on the story we tell ourselves. Our story is how we attach significance to these events. We decide the level of significance based on the story we tell.



Many Possible Responses



For every set of circumstances, there is not just one way to respond. My emotions are NOT the only valid response. So just because such and such happens to me doesn’t mean I have to respond in a certain way. There are many possible responses.



Slow Down



The thing that got me in trouble was how quickly I settled on the story in my mind based on the Tweet I was reading. I attached a certain meaning almost immediately. I didn’t consider any other possibilities. Several things had happened earlier that primed me for this response, but no matter, I still wouldn’t have failed in communicating if I would’ve slowed down or even consulted with someone else before drawing conclusions.



Three Stories



We tend to tell ourselves three types of stories to explain things we don’t like. We also use these stories to justify our own bad behavior.



Victim Stories – “It’s not my fault.”

Villain Stories – “It’s all your fault.”

Helpless Stories – “There’s nothing else I can do.”



Stories Result in a Path to Action



1. See/hear (facts)

2. Tell a story (interpretation of facts)

3. Feel (emotions)

4. Act (choose a response)



Our path to action may seem reasonable and certain, but if it is based on a story and a feeling, we may act in ways that are not helpful. I saw the Tweet on Friday night and immediately told myself a story. Then I felt upset and even angry. And that led to the awkward text message conversation that ensued. Oh my…



So this is really practical stuff that we can apply daily. In fact, the entire book has great wisdom for educators. We deal with so many crucial conversations. It happens all day, every day. It’s important to develop these skills.



It’s so important to remember there are the facts and then there are the stories we tell ourselves based on the facts. To close, here are four questions to ask that can help to avoid the crazy dance of some of our stories.



1. Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?

2. Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do this? This one would have stopped me cold on Friday night.

3. What do I really want?

4. What would I do right now if I really wanted these results?



I encourage you to read Crucial Conversations. I still mess it up sometimes (obviously), but the book was really helpful for me in dealing with difficult situations. Have you noticed yourself telling stories and jumping to conclusions? Maybe with student behaviors? Or colleagues? Are you retreating to silence or resorting to violence in your conversations? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Facebook or Twitter.

Read More The Facts and the Stories We Tell Ourselves Based on the Facts



I’m thankful I don’t always get what I deserve. Sometimes maybe I’ve gotten worse, but far more often I’ve been blessed far beyond what I merited. It’s because people believed in me even when I didn’t have a clue. And the people who believed in me had a great influence on me.



As educators, we are working with immature human beings. They are kids. Of course, there are plenty of adults who still haven’t matured, but that’s what we’re trying to avoid. We want to help students develop into mature, responsible grownups.



But it can be very challenging. As a teacher, you know you will be mistreated. It’s just part of working in a school with kids who bring all their junk with them each day. We should also remember we’re bringing our fair share of junk too.



Students are going to challenge your kindness. They aren’t always going to appreciate your offers of help. They don’t always respond the way we would like them to. And that’s why it’s important to keep a long-term perspective. Today may have been a really bad day. But let’s make sure we have a fresh start tomorrow.



Let’s focus on who students are becoming, not just who they are right now. The temptation is to treat students as they deserve. 



I’ll treat them with dignity when they act with dignity. I’ll show respect when they earn it. I’ll show them kindness and help them when they live up to my expectations.



But what if we tried a different approach? What if we extend grace and treat them better than they deserve? What if we focused on showing them we believe in them? Why not try something different?

Today, as I was greeting kids coming into school, I got a good morning high five from a student who has been less than respectful to me this year. I was shocked. More than once, I’ve thought about directly addressing some of the passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve felt from the student. 



And that would’ve been a perfectly appropriate response. In fact, I think some teachers probably need to be more assertive in setting boundaries and communicating expectations. I never want to condone bad behavior. Accountability is important, but the most important thing is growth. Sometimes growth comes from giving someone space to grow.



So in this case, I decided to just continue being nice. I decided to keep smiling, saying hello, and brushing off the subtle offenses. I decided to treat the student with the most care and concern I could muster. And maybe it’s working? The high five this morning was a good sign. But only time will tell.



When you extend grace, it can turn a heart around. Instead of allowing a student to create an adversarial relationship, refuse to be part of that. Continue with kindness.



How will you interact with your students? Will you treat them as they deserve? Or will you treat them like they might just change the world someday? I want to hear from you. Leave a comment below or respond on Twitter or Facebook.

Read More Focus On Who Students Are Becoming, Not Just Who They Are Right Now