As a parent of twin four-year-olds and a principal of an elementary school, there are times when I look back with disappointment in the way I responded impatiently or somewhat disrespectfully to my kids and/or students. As I lay calmly in bed later at night, I think, “why did I respond like that? It really wasn’t a big deal, but I made it into a big deal simply due to frustration. Why can’t be better at…”
We can be so critical of ourselves. I see my wife at home as well as some staff members at school who are often very hard on themselves when reflecting on their day spent with kids. It is so easy for us to see the negatives… to see all that went wrong in a day. I am not saying it isn’t important to look back with a critical eye but far too often the negatives become the focus.
I recall observing a teacher do a fantastic science lesson that had students moving, engaging with others, reflecting, and creating. Kids loved it! When I asked the teacher how she thought it went, she listed off all the things that went wrong in her mind. That is far from what I saw. What we see depends on what we look for. If we look for the positives and strengths, we will find them; unfortunately, we too often look for all the problems. We need to see both but we also need to do a better job of seeing the strengths.
A few months ago, I was away for a few days and I texted my wife and asked how the day was. She said that our girls had a really rough day filled with meltdowns, tears, fights, and frustration. I felt for her as I can only imagine how hard it is for my wife to run her business and look after twin preschoolers by herself… especially during a day full of meltdowns and tears. The interesting thing was that when I Facetimed my girls at bedtime, it was a very different story of the day. They eagerly told me they went for a bike ride, they swam, they baked cookies, they read stories… and they told me it was “The Best. Day. Ever!!!”.
Simple moments that we may take for granted can be important memories for our kids. I need to remind myself to take the time to look back with a more positive lens so we, as adults, can also smile at these moments. We know we will look back years from now and smile… the challenge is to do this now.
Teaching is incredibly difficult. Parenting is incredibly difficult. But these are the best “jobs” in the world… because, as teachers and parents, we have the power and the opportunity to possibly make a child’s day “the best day ever”.
To all the educators and parents/families out there, have a wonderful school year and here’s to making many days the “best day ever”.
Thank you to our Superintendent, Suzanne Hoffman, for reminding me of this by showing the following film at our summer admin meeting. Take 4 minutes and watch this powerful short film, “To A Child, Love is Spelled T-I-M-E“. #grabthekleenex
Beautiful, Chris. That video got me all teary eyed, dude! 🙂
Awesome reflection. Makes me think about what is important in life. One which is family, as well as ourselves. Your post reminded me of this video on Self-Compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZBUSplr4&feature=youtu.be and also this one on Gratitude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj2ofrX7jAk. We should try to look through our students and our kids eyes, and sometimes I think we need to say,”I have done enough”. Thanks for your thoughts.
Well said….I live and work in Guatemala and I need to remind myself that when we meet with a group of 50 kids once a week that they all carry their own baggage. Here it is no food, dirty water to drink, living conditions are not the best and usually there is only a mom or a grandmother in the house. They need to be understood for who they are, not for who I want them to be. We have noticed a great change in their attitudes since January because we are paying attention to them….listening to them and hugging them.