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A Bit Of Humanity

Dear Eleanor and Wesley,

In my job there are times when people do not like me very much. Many times. I’m almost never someone’s favorite person to see. I’ve learned not to take it personally. I’m kinda like the dentist. No one is over-joyed to go to the dentist. You go to the dentist because you have to and you just hope to get out without things going too terribly. Teachers seem to have that same feeling about me, because right now I’m an evaluator. I meet with a teacher before a lesson, observe the lesson, and then sit with them afterwards to talk through their formal results. 

The other day I was preparing to meet with a teacher who had a tough lesson. She has been giving it her all for many years, and this year in particular has clearly worn her down. I had the task of discussing the results of a lesson gone off the rails with this frustrated teacher and picking up the pieces. She made it abundantly clear that she did not like my rubric and was not particularly fond of me. But I had a job to do. 

How could I get this lady, likely 30 years my elder, to answer my questions and go through my process? I know strategies. I could have coaxed and cajoled and cognitively coached my way through each of the steps. I could have relied on the process. But I made a mistake.

I sat across the table and looked at her. In that moment, I saw past the lists of proficiencies and perscribed avenues of reflection. I saw a person. Resignation and defeat seemed a physical weight upon her shoulders. She was looking for a way to get this red-taped,bureaucratic burden behind her so that she could figure out how to make tomorrow a little bit better. She was looking for help. She was looking for hope. 

Seeing this person in front of me for where she was in the moment was incredibly inconvenient. Percieving the humanity in others usually is. People are unpredictable, idiosyncratic, and remarkably flawed. All of us. It is much easier to see only the parts of others that we can handle, and ignore the rest. The parts that are pleasant, attractive, and convenient. The problem is that there is no way to really love someone based on a shiny exterior. Real love only comes through seeing the truth about someone and choosing to love them through it.  

Dragging this poor soul through a conversation she dreaded was not what she needed. Instead, I did something I’ve never done. I told her I didn’t want to talk about the lesson. I just wanted to help her. Right then an amazing thing happened. She relaxed and pulled down her guard a bit. We started talk and in the end chatted a great deal about the lesson, hitting all of the key points. She left feeling supported and ready to take action. I left astonished about the thirty minutes we shared. Do not underestimate what a bit a humanity can do. 

Love,
Dad 
 

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9 Comments on “A Bit Of Humanity”

  1. Polysyllabic Profundities March 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

    Bravo. This is a post everyone should read.

  2. amommasview March 3, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    Good on you!

  3. Kera Diller March 3, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    As a middle school teacher of 8 years, this is something I wish Every principal would do. The parts of teaching I despise is the lack of help or support to accompany the impending doom that is “The Evaluation”. Thank you for this.

  4. refluxgirlnz March 3, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Great read indeed. At some point we all experience this.

  5. Home That We Built March 4, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    Do you yourself even know what’s the best part of your story? The fact that you made the shift to humanity unconsciously! You gave in to the situation: opened your eyes (or heart or both) and you both enjoy the outcome! That is invaluable.

  6. barbydaze March 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    For those of us who are ‘prone to being humane’….the joy we experience is priceless. great piece!

    • dzehring March 6, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks all for your kind comments. I’m glad this experience struck a chord. It’s really encouraging to see others connect with this type of moment. I hope we all can have a few more. Thanks for reading.

  7. jcmindset March 10, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Great post. I’m glad I found you. I’ll certainly be visiting your blog often

  8. Joel Zehring (@joelz) March 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    So glad you’re in this role. Proud of you, bro.

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