"Bored! That is usually how I feel about workshops and professional development, I'm just warning you," is how one principal in New Jersey introduced herself to me last Friday when I was about to begin training on the Danielson Framework for Teaching. Wow, I guess I can let that go or I can take it as a challenge. By lunchtime, she had to come see me again. "Uh-oh" I thought. "You can ask anyone----ask these other principals", she started out, "I hate these things. But, you know what? You have us up and moving around doing stuff that really matters in our jobs, and you make it fun, so that you can't help but stay involved in it. See? I haven't even been checking my email this morning. This is good stuff, Shelly."
After she left for lunch, all I could think was "This is exactly the type of engagement our lessons for kids need to be." You see, if we as adult learners have a tough time staying engaged in a day's training sometimes, seek first to understand how many of our typically off-task learners must feel. The more engaging and worthwhile the activities and the learning outcomes, the better off we ALL are, regardless of our age or our "ADHD-ness".
Full engagement of learners is most certainly the main task of every educator. After all, I can have the best laid plans (of mice and men---go on, you knew you wanted to say it), but those plans are only as brilliant as the learning that comes from the implementation of those plans.
Just for today, educators, let's plan for true engagement
Here is something I know to be true. If we treat service folks like we would like to be treated, we stand a better chance of being satisfied with their service and making them happy at the same time.
For a week, I tried to deal with Hilton Advance Reservations to try to get a hotel night changed so I could move closer to the school at which I will be training on Monday. No way, Jose. Nobody would budge. "You paid up front, we cannot refund your money now."
"I am asking for you to give me, as a Hilton Honors member, a one-time courtesy on this."
I checked in to the Hilton last night and told the girl at the front desk my frustration. "I know you can't change it for me but I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the HOTEL service here, even if I don't care for the customer service at Advance Reservations."
She said, "Let me let you tell that to my manager."
The manager came out, heard my story and asked, "Really? They wouldn't let you out of your night's stay on Sunday night?"
"Nope", I said, "but I appreciate you guys here at the hotel so much. The times I have stayed here, everyone is so helpful and breakfast is delicious."
He typed on the computer for five seconds and said, "You're good---you won't be charged for Sunday night's stay---you can move to your other hotel."
I LOVE HIM!!
I told him, as I came back from Manhattan today, how much I appreciated his help and he said, "I appreciate you giving us a chance to make you happy."
Talk about a win-win!!
How about, just for today, we tell someone in the customer service industry, how we feel about them? It will make their day and our
I left on Monday to train for one day in New York only to be asked to train for several more days in a row in the Northeast. While my first thought was, "Oh my goodness, I am going to need more outfits. One suit will not suffice over the next few days", my next thought turned to "Oh NO! I will miss being with Dave for Valentines' Day this year."
Today, I was teaching two 3 hour workshops----fast paced with energetic teachers. At the break, a participant came to ask me, "Would you come see my classroom?" My first thought was "Oh I really need time to reconvene during the break." But what I said was "I would love to come see it." She is amazing----she is a high school special education teacher whose classroom is a student-run floral shop. Amazing!! I was so grateful to be able to see it.
At the end of the day, she caught me again and asked, "Can you come to my room for just a minute?" To say I was exhausted was an understatement. But I walked over, and she said, "I made a floral arrangement for you to thank you for coming to present to us today." I almost burst into tears. How kind people are if we simply allow them to be kind to us!
Now, I'm not saying Dave is totally off the Valentines' hook but I sure am enjoying seeing these beautiful blooms brighten up my hotel room on this dark, cold, rainy night in New Jersey.
When we were little girls, my sister Kristen and I shared a bedroom. The room was oversized, originally intended to be split into two rooms. We split the room into sections, instead. We used one side for our two twin beds and the other side became our playroom, complete with a dollhouse that put Barbie’s Malibu home to shame, stuffed animals, art area, and bookshelves filled with our treasured picture books. Mother and Daddy encouraged artwork --- painting, drawing, coloring, although Mother snubbed her nose at traditional coloring books, claiming them to stifle any creativity. Artwork, however, was not encouraged to be completed on the walls of our bedroom, as I personally found out as a young girl. Like Harold with his purple crayon, I somehow got the idea that drawing on the wall by my bed with a blue crayon was a good idea. Not so. A strong scolding was all it took to convince me to not do that again.
So, when Mother and Daddy suggested Kristen and I begin measuring ourselves, using a pencil to mark our height on the bedroom wall, I was a bit gunshy. Was this a trick? Could we really mark on the wall? “Yes, it’s fine in this case. Plus, we are only using pencil and we’ll wipe it off as we make new marks.” Reluctantly, I backed against the wall to allow Kristen to draw a line above my head with a #2 pencil. In case Mother and Daddy changed their minds and got onto us for writing on the wall, maybe I wouldn’t be first in line to be scolded.
How odd to turn around and see where the mark on the wall was. It seemed so low. Could I really be that short? But week after week, we returned to the wall to measure. Lo and behold---the lines slowly but surely crawled up the wall. And despite the original thought, we were able to keep the older pencil marks so we could see where we had come from. “Wow! Can you believe I was ever that short?” we would marvel. Kristen and I grew, we grew up, and for a time, we grew away.
Nichole Nordeman’s song “I Am” begins with the words
“Pencil marks on a wall, I wasn’t always that tall.
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed.”
This melodic song depicts growing up, calling out by name the need for a savior, secret keeper, elbow healer, and comforter, with a loved one, a parent and, ultimately, God answering, “I am”.
How I measured myself changed as the years went by. Marks on a wall were exchanged for milestones such as shopping for a first bra, “falling in love” with my first boyfriend, and moving into a college dorm. College, for me, brought a host of new experiences including making lifelong friends, two of whom ended up being bridesmaids in my wedding. Kelly, Robin and I saw each other through major boyfriend breakups, late nights studying and, ultimately, weddings.
When we called out for a “secret keeper” or “heartache healer”, the others would be there. We listened to each other declare we would never be able to love again. When we were weak, we would call each other. When Robin called so long ago to say she was getting a divorce, I asked “Do you want me to come be with you?” She answered, “Come if you can.” I said, “I am.”
This last fall, Robin called. I knew what had happened before she said her father had passed away. I didn’t go to Nebraska. But she asked me if I had any suggestions for music that might be nice for his funeral. I told her I would think about it. I did. Robin’s dad had meant the world to her. What kind of song would be fitting for a dad who had been the hero to her for so long? What kind of song would be a good measure of her love for him? I burst into tears when I pulled up Nichole Nordeman’s album on my computer and saw this song. I sent her the words and told her to listen.
“When I am weak, unable to speak, still, I will call you by name.
Oh Shepherd, Savior, pasture maker, hold on to my hand. And You said, ‘I am’.”
After all these years, from measuring myself by pencil marks on a wall to measuring myself by the love I still feel for my sister and these God friends, I want to take a minute to remind them that when we are weak and unable to speak, if you call out for a secret keeper to hold your hand, I will answer “I am”.
While on board a flight this morning, I witnessed a common communication error. As the cart offering snacks for purchase had passed, a passenger called out to ask if he could order something. The flight attendant went over, and the gentleman said, “I didn’t get a chance to order.” The flight attendant had a choice at this point. She could:
1. say, “I’m so sorry, Sir----what can I get for you?”
2. say, “I guess you missed the cart when it passed by the first time”.
Guess which she did----oh no!! Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Not only did she choose 2, she did it like a Jack Russell grabbing a rope. She would not let it go! “Sir, I guess you just didn’t hear me when I announced it a minute ago. I mean, I am happy to get you something now, but I just wanted you to know I did ask your row and the others around you if they wanted anything. See, the lady in front of you got something, the man next to you got something, I guess you just didn’t hear me.”
As an owner of three Labs who sometimes get hold of a chew toy they don’t want to let go of, I wanted to yell, “Drop it!!”
How about, just for today, we practice “letting it go”, even when we know we are right? Spoiler alert----this is one of my weaker areas---why else would it be so easy for me to recognize in others? After all, in one of my favorite songs, the Indigo Girls sing “Everything I believe is wrong with you is wrong with me.”