The biggest goal I have is to be more kind, more understanding, more flexible, and more effective with my teaching.

Don't get me wrong, I was not an ogre standing in the front of the room, but we all have our moments when we fall off the wagon. I am not proud of it. I am willing to admit it if it can help me be a better teacher. A better Mom, a better teacher, better wife, and a better friend. Maybe I am a little hard on myself. But in those times when my tongue is a little sharper than it should be, I long to be better. And the kids deserve the best.

One saying I ran across this summer that impacted me...

What else could this mean? - Tony Robbins

What a great question with so many possibilities. The problem lies in the context of relationships. Do people mean to make us mad with their words and actions? Or are we giving meaning to their words based on past experiences?

Have you ever found yourself so sure you were "right?" You had yourself convinced, and you were not willing to back down. How dare they disrespect you that way! How dare they speak to you that way!

And then you heard through the grapevine that their Dad had passed away last night. They were only there to turn in lesson plans. And when you asked for that small favor, it was simply more than any human could handle.

We have all had to eat our words. We have all assumed the worst, got angry, or made false accusations. But when you take a minute to ask this simple question, you will find your anger decreases. Along with the stress, we carry.

As teachers, we all have our stress. My goal this year is to take a second when I feel my blood starting to boil and ask, "What else could this mean?"

  • Instead of that misbehavior being mean, maybe it is avoidance?
  • Maybe harsh words aren't directed at me, but the abusive mom at home?
  • Perhaps a lack of homework is not laziness, but the lack of a home?
  • Is that smile hiding anything?

I know this is the stuff that relationships are made of. They need patience and love to flourish. For so many kids, math class may just be where they need it the most. They are more nervous and more insecure. A strong relationship is just what they need to be able to succeed.

Because I know this stuff and I don't want to forget in the craziness. So I have started posting the question in random places in my home, my car, and my classroom. Small index cards by the light switches and computer monitors.

I already see the positive effects of this on my relationships at home, and I am excited to see what it does in my classroom.