Perhaps you’ve noticed that I haven’t blogged for several months. (Or… more likely, perhaps you haven’t noticed such thing). Regardless, I am back. I took a short breather from blogging so that I could focus on my student teaching and actually acquire a college degree. I had a blessed time student teaching and learned some very important life lessons that changed my life. I wish to share.
#1 Expectations are everything
“Mrs. Smith, do we seriously have to have this whole speech memorized by next week? There’s no way I can do this.” I heard comments similar to this quite often during my student teaching experience. People’s natural reaction to something seemingly hard is that they can’t do it. But I saw time and time again that if the expectation is set on them to do it, they will step up to the plate and exceed those expectations. There is an innate quality inside of humans that makes us want to live up to the expectations set on us, even if we believe we are unable to meet such expectations. In all honesty, it would be easier for me as a teacher to allow my students to take the easy way out and get an “easy A”. But would that be doing them a favor? Is setting low expectations on people allowing them the opportunity to discover their full capacity? Are people really going to grow if they are never pushed? I reckon the answers to the previous questions are no. I truly believe that there is a strong correlation with high expectations and high achievement.
This principle applies to all walks of life. Expect your child to get good grades (even the ones with special needs, they are exceptionally brilliant individuals). Expect your employees to finish a project on time. Expect your significant other to treat you with respect. I have found that when you set low expectations then you will live with mediocre results and limit yourself and others from discovering full potential. People want to be believed in. They want to make others proud, so give them that opportunity by setting your expectations high.
#2 Get rid of the negativity
I worked in an environment on a daily basis where I rarely heard anything positive or uplifting. No joke. I was surprised to see how cynical, pessimistic or derogatory conversations tended to be. It was disappointing to see how often the faculty bad-mouthed the administration and how the teacher’s lounge was roaring with gossip about students. There always seemed to be something to complain about– policies, spouses, the overly-potent smell of popcorn, end of level testing, and if there weren’t any real problems to wail about then the default conversation would turn to the crumby weather forecast. It got to the point where I didn’t bother contributing to the conversations because I felt like I had to either succumb to the negativism to fit in, or be that annoying overly optimistic girl that everyone cringes at.
When we immerse ourselves in negativity we often forget about all the blessings we have. We limit ourselves to only being satisfied with life when everything is going 100% perfect. (AKA never). Others begin to feel like we are more of a burden to be around rather than a delight (heaven knows that nobody wants to hang with the bitter badgers, moaning Myrtles and Debbie downers of the world). Let’s do away with negativity and seek to uplift and compliment others. Let’s celebrate small victories and enjoy life’s little moments even in the roughest of times. Let’s remember that our purpose here on earth is to be HAPPY.
#3 Give people the benefit of the doubt
Oh geez… this next one makes me want to shrivel up in a corner when I think about it. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. Here’s how:
It was about a month into my student teaching when I came home and vented to my husband. I told him that one of my coordinating teachers was an awesome teacher but she acted like I wasn’t there. She ignored me and never gave me any sort of guidance or direction. This went on for a while and I started developing some resentment towards her.
Two days after my venting session I was sitting in her classroom when she got up in front of her students and said “Sorry I’ve been a little off lately. My husband decided he didn’t want to be married to me anymore, so I’m now in the middle of getting a divorce”. My heart dropped. Um… HELLO?! Here I am moping about being “ignored” when it turns out that she was dealing with her husband wanting to divorce her?!! I felt sick. 1) because my heart broke for her and 2) because I had been so caught up in myself and automatically assumed the worst in her. Golly… if you’re going through a divorce, ignore me all you want!
From that point on I understood the reasons for her actions and was able to cope with my minuscule (very minuscule) issues appropriately. After this incident I was reminded of this quote by Marvin J. Ashton “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.” When we know someone’s story then we are more compassionate towards them and tend to see the best in them. So why don’t we do this even when we don’t know their story? Why don’t we assume they are doing the best they can with the circumstances they’ve been given? I think it would make a world of difference in our lives if we always gave people the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are doing the best they can.
How forever grateful I will be for the relationships I made, the lessons I learned and the experiences I had during my student teaching.