From the Other Room

Those that love you, and especially those that spend a lot of time with you, probably have learned little quirks about you along the way.

Maybe you pronounce certain words differently than everyone else.  I know someone that pronounces the restaurant Shoney’s as “SHAH-nees”  Or, if you’re really, really from the deep south, you may add an “R” to the “ah” sound in words.  For example, you might clean your clothes with a “wARshing machine” or have taken a trip to “ChicARgo”

Perhaps your quirks are more related to the way you want things done.  Coffee mugs Coffee-Mug-Storage-6-ushave to be loaded in the cupboard with their handles facing out at a 45-degree angle.  Or, you have to face the door when seated in a restaurant (you remember when we all went out to restaurants, right?).

Most of the quirks and things that we have that cull us from the herd aren’t intentional.  You don’t want to prefer that the A/C is turned way up just so you can use blankets in July – you just do.  You probably rather that you didn’t freak out when your food touches on your plate – it just bothers you.

There isn’t anything wrong with the little quirks that make us unique.  Unless, of course, you have a phobia of toothpaste, soap, or anything related to cleanliness.  Then, it is wrong.  And grossgross

One of my idiosyncrasies that my kids learn pretty early on is that it drives me crazy if I am reading or looking at something and someone comes in over my shoulder.  Like, I will feel the Hulk rising up in me in anger.  I must immediately either hand whatever it is to that person and let them have it, turn away, or just shoo them away.  I can’t continue when I know someone is reading over my shoulder.

I can’t explain that any more than you can explain why you can’t stand wearing socks or why you have to delete or file all of your emails immediately after you read them.  It is just that way.  Again, as long as it doesn’t have to do with personal hygiene (should probably also add criminal activity), then it probably isn’t doing harm.

But, let’s go back to mine for a second.  It appears that our nation, both as a collection of individuals and as a whole, has adopted the whole “looking over our shoulder” routine.

  • Slow motion replay have referees and umpires scrutinized within inches of the strike zone or out-of-bounds lines.  While I am all for getting everything exactly right, as a Cardinals fan I object in the name of Don Denkinger!
  • Get on your social media feed for a moment and watch how we are quick to be able to tell everyone involved in the current Global Pandemic how they should be doing their jobs.  From scientists and medical experts to local and national politicians.  It’s a wonder we haven’t solved the problem yet with all of the expertise on my timeline.
  • Don’t even get me started on how we scrutinize coaches. We have a nation full of “expert” parents (and others), many of which have zero experience coaching (no, your kid’s t-ball team doesn’t count).  Fewer still actually played sports at or above the high school level.  But, we are swift to stomp around and point fingers at coaching style, offensive scheme, batting lineup, or even how the coach dresses during a game.
  • Finally, I’ve saved the one for last that touches closest to my chosen profession.  I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had in the past 11 years as a school administrator with a parent regarding a teacher or other educational professional.
    • If a student is disrupting class – the discussion turns to how the teacher disciplines other students or the tone of voice they used when correcting behavior.
    • When a student is behind, then we want to talk about how the teacher didn’t call home with every failing quiz grade (forget the fact that the parent hasn’t asked or shown up to any events at school that facilitate those conversations).
    • When a school is “graded” via a battery of assessments to compare your child’s school with everyone else around the state and nation, then fingers are pointed everywhere within poorly performing schools as to who is to blame.
      • Those grades don’t factor in (a) The number of students you have that don’t eat properly unless they get school breakfast and lunch; (b) The number of students that worked late last night; or (c) How many students are supported, helped, or even read to at home.

The soapbox here landed on schools because that’s what I do.  While I hate someone trying to do something from over my shoulder, I certainly don’t have time for someone to tell me from the other room.  So, if you’re out there listening from Nashville or Washington, D.C. (you are the one in the other room, just for clarity), this pandemic has hopefully opened your eyes to the fact that teachers in our state are doing a really good job every day.

They are not just purveyors of facts and knowledge.  Educators are also parents, counselors, friends, guides, disciplinarians, listeners, mediators, and sometimes they embody the good that some of our students don’t see otherwise.

By the way, we are OK with assessing students.  We want to know how they are doing, too.  Just as long as the tool by which we are assessing is fair, clearly communicated, and not punitive to students, teachers, schools, or communities.

And, we are OK with someone disagreeing with something we do.  Only, do that with the understanding that we want to model adult, productive conversations for our students.

As far as our nation goes, I’m going to trust that staying distanced from one another is the best thing for us right now.  Because, while I may not get sick, I don’t want to be the reason someone else does.  While there are those that tell me this is more pomp than substance, I’m not the expert on diseases, disease control, or public policy.  So, I’m thankful to those that are and won’t read over their shoulder.

From the perspective of a professional educator, I miss students.  If you know an educator that doesn’t miss students, then don’t send them to work at our school.  Students are our “why. . ” and I personally look forward to having them back.

If you have to disagree, be civil about it.

If you want to stand over my shoulder, I’m not going to try to keep civil myself.

If you want to pontificate about the state of a disease or our nation, do it at home and get off social media.

But regardless – please, just please . . . . . stop saying “ChiCARgo”!

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