I noticed something the other day.
I noticed that sometimes we are reluctant to go to each other with problems. Not all problems, just the ones that have to do with hurt feelings.
I wonder…do we expect more out of our students than we expect out of ourselves?
What do we often do when a student approaches us about a “hurt feelings” situation? If we perceive the issue as quite minor, we send them back to their offender and ask them to work it out. We give guidance and ask them to let us know if it doesn’t get resolved.
Are we willing to follow our own advice?
One hypothesis I have is that we don’t trust ourselves, our feelings, our instincts. We do not trust that we can handle a difficult situation in a way that will make it better. We fear that we will make it worse.
Educators also have sensitive servant hearts. We don’t like to have uncomfortable conversations. We like to be kind. What we forget is that likely the kindest thing to do is to gently bring the issue to the person’s attention.
Let’s challenge ourselves to have a growth mindset about our colleagues. Let’s assume they don’t know that they have been hurtful. Let’s assume they would feel terrible about hurting someone’s feelings and would want to know. They deserve to know.
What if you did “handle it” the next time someone hurt your feelings? The next time you heard a staff member talking to a student in a way that didn’t feel right? But, what if you handled it this way…
1. Assume positive intent–not many educators I know like to hurt feelings. Many people don’t realize how they are coming across. Assume the person doesn’t know that his/her behavior was hurtful. Start with something like, “I know you would never mean to…”. Or, “It seemed like you were upset…”
2. Ask how you can help.
3. Encourage the person for his/her self-reflection.
Chances are, the person you are talking to will self-evaluate and not make the same mistake again. If not, repeat this process. If you don’t feel like you are getting anywhere, let the person know that you think the principal could help. Then, you will have done all you can and the principal can take it from there.
The danger in not addressing concerns are many, and the problem becomes a little bit bigger every time you don’t address it. Do the students and your colleagues a favor and follow the advice you give your students–work it out.
Have you ever noticed a problem that goes on for years, yet no one addresses it? What it your hypothesis?