Thanks to some tweets from Laura Komos while she was at ASCD’s annual conference I was introduced to Bob Sornson. Laura was clearly quite impressed by him and her tweets made me want to read his work.
Although I finished the book a few weeks ago one idea is sticking with me. Sornson writes about nine skills in the book. The one that seems to me to be the most critical is “using empathy.” In many ways, I believe everything else can fall into place if a teacher is using empathy.
I am amazed at how often I find myself getting annoyed at a child because he or she is doing something again. In my mind that child is deliberately trying to drive me crazy. I think, “I know that child knows better. I know that child could stop that.”
I should know better. I need to stop that.
I have watched my oldest daughter hum or sing while she brushes her teeth, does her homework, rides her bike, makes dinner, eats breakfast, etc. The great majority of the time she has no idea she is humming or singing. She is not trying to drive me crazy.
Isn't that likely to be true about my students as well?
That little boy chewing on his sleeve. Isn't it likely he doesn't even realize he’s doing that? The little girl spinning down the hallway. Isn't it likely she isn't aware of what she’s doing?
That’s not to say I won’t stop the boy from chewing on his sleeve (I know his parents will appreciate my doing so) or the girl from spinning down the hallway (we do need to avoid the kindergartners walking our way). But a little bit of empathy from me means I can address these children with gentle reminders rather than stern admonitions. And which option is more likely to serve us well in the long term?