When do you give up on someone? When do you just realize that they are never going to get what you are trying to help them learn?
Early on when I first started doing workshops with teachers, especially in the area of the technology, there would be a point where I would just give up on some. I hate to admit it but they were nowhere near where I thought they should be so I would turn my attention to those that seemingly were getting it and basically cut my losses. I am not proud of it, but that’s what I did.
Then I remember a teacher coming into my room extremely frustrated with her classroom. She had talked about how big of a challenge they were and that she was seemingly getting nowhere with the majority of them. Then I asked her the question, “Are you a great teacher?”, where she emphatically replied, “Yes!” Then I said to her, well it is pretty easy to teach a class of students that all seem to get what you are trying to teach them, but a great teacher works with any student that is put in front of them, recognizes when they are trying to get better, and helps them move forward. She took my question and advice to heart and she had an amazing year with her students.
As I thought about my own words to someone else, I realized that I wasn’t even following them myself. As I thought about our conversation, I started to look different on the professional development opportunities that I was delivering myself. I started to realize that it was not about what people had learned, but that they were learning. If they were trying to move forward, they were successful that day, and making sure they knew that would push them that much further. I often tell my workshop participants early on that if you do not think you have picked up everything that I have shared, that is fine, as long as they are trying to pick up some of the things. I have even told them that if there brain is full, and that they have picked up enough, to feel free to just explore what they have learned while I share other things.
As much as we talk about the importance of collaboration, learning is an extremely personal experience. For some people, whether it is our kids or adults, just showing up is a victory and a way of them saying they want to get better. Don’t ever give up on someone that is learning, even though sometimes it would be really easy to do. We wouldn’t accept doing that to our students, so we shouldn’t accept doing that to each other.