I was reading my friend Tony Sinanis’ blog and his post on “Dear Sucky Teacher”, which was preceded by “Dear Sucky Administrator“. I have had a lot of conversations with Tony, and I can tell you that he is one of the kindest and most supportive people I know, but I will admit, the title threw me off. I have said before that nobody gets up in the morning wanting to be terrible, and although there are teachers out there that don’t love their job, there is always more to a story than we know. In no way is this meant to be a challenge on Tony’s post, but it just made me think and connect to my own learning.
One of the comments that I made about the post would be on changing the title to, “Dear Struggling Teacher”. What would that say? I know some amazing teachers who have not lived up to their own standards themselves, and have had tough years. I know that I have had my own tough times and I have not lived up to my own standards whether it be personally or professionally. Some people actually excel in their jobs when things are bad in other areas. It is often how they are wired, sometimes it is the superior ability to compartmentalize, and sometimes it’s avoidance. As someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, you can see when I am having a bad day from a mile away, and I know it can affect what I do.
So in light of Tony’s post and people sharing their “word” for 2015, I have thought about a word that has kept popping up into my head over and over again; empathy. I have especially thought about it a lot in a world where technology so dominates us, that we often forget that there is a human being on the other side of that connection. It has made me step back and really think about how it is so easy to go online and complain about a bad customer interaction, not really knowing more to the story. I know that I have been prone to push in person and online, so I have tried to step back and ask more questions than anything, and as Stephen Covey would say, “seeking to understand”.
Empathy is crucial to innovation and design thinking, and that is being mentioned quite a bit, but it is also crucial to every interaction that we have. So personally and professionally, So in 2015, I am going to focus more on asking questions and trying to understand, as opposed to being stuck to an opinion. Hopefully this goes way beyond this year.
What’s your word?