Monday, September 14, 2015

Teaching Tip #5

Be clear to be kind.

I was listening to a podcast featuring Jack Galloway, executive vice president of Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership company.  His focus was on dealing with mistakes within their organization.  One of the inevitable key things all leaders (teachers and coaches included here, of course) is delivering “bad news” in the form of having to correct poor behavior or lack of initiative.

One thing Galloway said that really stood out to me was simply, “be clear to be kind.”  He elaborated that when meeting with an employee, you do neither yourself nor them any good by not getting directly to the issue.  Don’t sugar coat it because you feel bad for delivering bad news.  They cannot walk out without a clear, specific idea of what they need to do to improve.  In this being clear is being kind because now that person knows what they need to do to win or improve at their job.

This topic couldn’t have come at a better time as I have some students in one of my blocks that need some direction.  They need to know what winning looks like.  They also need to know how far they really are from that right now.

Personally, I dread this.  Why can’t everyone just work hard and do what is asked of them?  Well, then we probably wouldn’t have jobs then, would we?

Nevertheless, I hate delivering bad news.  I dread it.  I put it off, hoping somehow the students will magically get clued in to what winning looks like in my class.  This never happens, unfortunately.

So that means on Monday (and the sooner I be clear, the better), I have to have a very, very candid conversation with these students about correcting their effort and behavior in class.  Before I do this, though, I’m going to have a brief list of five things each student needs to do in order to get on the right track.

Again, there is not telling you how much I am not looking forward to this.  In the past I would actually lose sleep over this.  That is how much I dreaded this.

Now, though, once I type my list up of corrections for each student’s effort and behavior and know exactly what they will need to improve on (and I can send this to them via Drive or Gmail too . . . with it cc’d to the counselors and Mr. Zutz and Mr. Brekke too as well as parents if I have their emails), I will rest easier.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize this. In coaching, if I saw something that needed correcting, I was all over it.  Just ask coach Loe. When we coached freshman football once we had a talented running back.  Yet, whenever I called the counter to his side, he always wanted to take it outside rather than cut it up in the hole, just off the pulling guard’s block of the defensive end.

He did it.  I’d correct him.  Then I’d call that play later on, and he would try to take it outside.  Finally, I lost it.  I slammed my clipboard down on the ground, stomped on it, and tore into him.

Now this was certainly clear to him.  It wasn’t necessarily kind, as I was screaming, but it was kind in that for the rest of that season, he never ever ran the counter to the outside again.  And he had a couple game winning runs with the counter play.  So in that way, I really was being kind, though it didn’t seem like it at first.

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