Sunday, September 7, 2014

A bigger truck...

A recent story made smile:  Two men decided it was time to make their fortune by setting up a roadside fruit stand.  They made their plan, and set it in motion by driving out into the field to pick their melons, pay the farmer who grew them a dollar per melon, and drive their truck to their stand where they would sell the melons for a dollar each.  After a few runs, one turned to the other and said, “we really aren’t making much money on this, are we?”  To which the other responded “Maybe we need to get a bigger truck…”

Sometimes we shake our head when others don’t get it…and at times one of those others is me.  What do I wish for when I don’t get it?  The opportunity to get it.  I think this requires two courageous actions.  First, it requires someone to do more than shake their head – the action must be accompanied by their voice.  One that expresses in a courteous yet passionate manner (a kind smack to the back of the head) “Hey…did you ever think about _______?”

The second action is the critical one, and falls solely upon me.  It is the courage to listen (and not be offended).  That’s much more than hearing what is being said.  It’s empathetic listening: listening to understand, and not listening to reply.

Although I’ve been and will continue to be a lifelong educator, the changing of my roles often concerns me.  I was in the classroom for six fantastic years.  Then I got a bigger truck, and served as a building principal for 11 years, and loved that role.  I’m now in a district truck role, entering my 4th year.  With each passing year, I’m a little bit further away from those fantastic years having a direct impact on students.  With the changing positions, my day-to-day contact with students has lessened, and now my work focuses on building leaders who influence the adults that have the most direct impact on students.  Being further away from the students, I believe, increases my chances of not getting it.

A goal this year is to increase my capacity to listen, and by doing so, keeping the focus on the students and those that have the greatest impact upon them.  The good news is that listening does not require a bigger truck…