I made a mistake a few weeks ago at work. To me, this wasn’t a small mistake; it was a BIG, giant, shameful mistake. While I won’t share the details because they don’t matter here, I would like to share what was gained.
Immediately upon discovering my mistake during a planning period, I freaked out. My heart was racing. My hands went cold. My brain went blank. I didn’t know what to do with the situation or with my body that was acting so strangely. Maybe that was what an out-of-body experience is like?
After a two- or eight-minute brain freeze, I sprinted to my administrator’s office to let her know what happened. As fate would have it, she was not available, so I went outside, paced the nearest garden and broke into tears. I sat outside, cried hysterically, and berated myself until I thought her meeting was over. It felt like ages.
She welcomed me into her office with understanding and truly worried eyes. I awkwardly sat down and spat out what happened, although I’m sure it didn’t make perfect sense.
She clarified what I had said (because I didn’t make any sense) and offered a game plan for me to patch up the situation. She empathized with me and shared a time she felt like I did. She didn’t have to, but she did.
Guys, I’ll repeat that: She LISTENED to me. I knew she could feel my pain. She supported me, brought me out of freak-out mode, and helped me help myself.
THAT is what we, teachers, need to do when our students don’t make the right choices.
Our students make mistakes, just like we do. Our students feel awful about their mistakes, just like we do. Our students freak out when they make mistakes, just like we do. Students, teachers, parents, and administrators alike are ALL human…and…imperfect…and in great need of a supportive leader in those mortifying times.
I’m so grateful I was treated with such dignity, care, and respect when I made my mistake. So grateful, indeed, that I will remember to continue to treat those around me with the same level of dignity, care, and respect – even if they’re younger and shorter than I am – when they act human and make mistakes. I urge you to do the same.Thank you, TB. You have no idea how much your response meant to me. I’m nearly over it now
Thank you, TJ. I am beyond glad you trusted me and knew it was an oversight. This story could be much different if you didn’t help me.