Thursday, February 25, 2021

Stop saying, "I'm sorry."

Before you demand an apology from on.

I didn't say, stop apologizing. I said, stop saying, "I'm sorry."
Ther is a more meaningful way to apologize.
Let's use an example to drive this point home.

Sam and Bill are both 3rd graders in the same class.

Sam walks over to Bill's desk, takes his pudding cup, and starts eating it. When Bill gets back from the water fountain, he sees Sam with a smile on his face as well as some of his pudding.  Bill is MAD and SAD! I would be too...I love pudding!

Bill starts crying and their teacher walks over to investigate. After about seven seconds, the truth is clear. The teacher reprimands Sam and he tucks his chin into his chest with a scowl on his face and says, "I'm sorry" as he storms away. 

Bill is still crying, Sam is upset that he got yelled at, and nothing has been rectified. On top of that, Bill and Sam will probably not be friends for the rest of the day.

Sam apologized, but it didn't mean anything. He said it because he knew he was supposed to, but it didn't have any meaning, feeling, or sincerity behind it. It was a "fire and forget" apology that did nothing to show remorse, support the healing of Bill, or mend their friendship.
When something happens where an apology is warranted, there was usually a power imbalance in which the person who did the wrong thing took power away from whoever was wronged. In this case, Sam took the power away from Bill by taking his pudding cup and eating it. Bill was wronged by Sam. Let's see how we can remedy this power imbalance by having Sam apologize in a more meaningful way. 

Sam says to Bill, "Bill. Please forgive me for taking your pudding cup and eating it."

Sam, who originally had the power advantage, just tipped the scale in Sam's direction by the way he worded his apology. Sam is now at the mercy of Bill and his choice to forgive him or not for the infraction. Even though he will not get his pudding cup back, the ball is now in his court and he gets to make the decision, not Sam. 

He did not have a choice to eat his pudding cup. That choice was taken away from him. But he has a choice now. The scale will be tipped in Bill's favor until he makes the choice to balance it again by forgiving Sam. 
How we apologize and forgive each other can be very shallow with the "fire and forget" form of, "I'm sorry," or it can be meaningful and sincere by shifting the power imbalance to the injured person and allowing them to shift the scale back to zero. By placing meaning, feeling, and sincerity behind an apology, it will also speed up the healing process and let us get back to being friends, and hopefully eating pudding!

Try this technique the next time you have to apologize for something. You will feel a twinge of uneasiness as you realize you have given up all power on whether you will be forgiven or not. That decision is not up to you. It is up to the person you wronged. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Time Web

 While I love teaching 8th grade U.S. History, I do with I hade more time so that my content wasn't, "a mile wide and an inch deep." So many of our topics are intertwined and deeper than the one or two days we get to spend on them. I am trying desperately to make connections in history stick together.


I talk to my students all the time about how the points in history that we study are all interrelated. History isn't so much a TIMELINE as it is a TIME WEB, with events linking to other events happening at the same time, in the future, and in the past.

Today in class was a great example. While talking about the Missouri compromise and California statehood, a bunch of different points in history that we have already learned about came into play. Thomas Cobb, James Tallmadge, and John Q. Adams all predicted the civil war decades before it would take place.

We brought up the revolt of Nat Turner and how that led to first amendment issues in Mississippi when them offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of any person "who shall utter, publish, or circulate" abolitionist ideas.

We talked about how the women's rights movement, the temperance movement,  and public school reform all helped lead to the abolition of slavery. We talked about the tabling of slavery issues by congress, basically, "kicking the can down the road." We also talked about what it meant to, "Make a motion" and "Table" something.

We recalled the U.S. - Mexican war and how it was brought on by the annexation of Texas. It helped us to, "REMEMBER THE ALAMO!" and General Santa Anna. When President Polk asked for money for the war, David Wilmot of Pennsylvania brought up a Proviso that would ban slavery in any territory that was gained as a result. 

The gold rush to California in 1849 and the follow-on application for statehood as a free state-linked us back to the Missouri compromise and the "line in the sand" at the 36 degrees 30 minute parallel and why it wasn't drawn all the way to the Pacific ocean.

Our TIME WEB got a workout today, linking the founding of our Nation with several historical stops along the way on our mile-wide, inch-deep journey. Days like today make me feel like we are simply skipping a rock across the pond of history, touching only key points, and leaving out other vital topics.

My hope is that my 8th graders learn to love learning and make connections of their own.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Messy Desk

What does your desk look like?

Some days my desk looks great! I take 8 min. and put things away, throw away un-needed times, and I look really organized. Other days, it's not like that.  Why does it matter? Or does it?

Albert Einstein said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
My desk is cluttered and my mind is not empty!
As for your desk, I think it depends on what your desk is used for:

  • Primary workstation. You spend the vast majority of your time at your desk because that's where work gets done. When I was working full time for the Army as an assistant operations officer, this was how my desk was used. My life revolved around phone conferences, PowerPoint slides, Email, and producing orders.
  • Supplementary workstation. You spend time at your desk, but it is used to enhance your job. This is how my desk is used as a teacher. I do work here, but most of my work is done away from my desk.
  • Nonworkstation. You have a desk because you need a place to put some things, but you don't do any work there. This was my desk as a Company Commander in the Army. I basically used my desk as a place to put things while I went from task to task.

Taking a look at my desk today, I see a couple of coffee cups, a binder from the class I just got done teaching (on-line course for the Army), a few dry-erase markers, my Rocketbook (Check out my video on using Rocketbook), my keys, a bottle of cleaner, a 3D printed pencil holder with applicable pencils, pens, screwdriver, fork (what is that doing there?) and a checklist that I am currently working on.

This is definitely a supplementary workstation. When students come in tomorrow, I will use my desk for taking lunch count, attendance, and starting whatever prevention we will be working on. I will spend some time at my desk tomorrow, but most of my time will be spent away from my desk talking with and helping my students.

When teachers went from face-to-face to virtual, there were some massive changes in regards to our desks. First, our desk went from our classroom to our home. When we are in our classroom, our space is geared toward teaching, when we are at home, it is not. 

Where was your desk?

Mine was at first in the kitchen. I hung a sheet up in between the windows to help knock down some of the echoes. Second, it moved to our spare bedroom, again with a sheet hung up behind me. I look back at some of those early recordings and I laugh at how ridiculous it looks!

I ended up placing my computer in the basement on my workbench so I could stand most of the time. It was really tough to get organized at home without a primary workstation desk.

Clutter Helps

I think that having a desk with some clutter on it helps me manage my work. I tend to bounce around from task to task and by having "everything out" I remember things I need to do. About once a week my desk gets a good cleaning. Things get thrown away, put away, placed in places of priority so I remember to do them. 

How do you use your desk?
What does it look like?