‘Seeking to understand’ in action

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

A norm that I aspire to, however difficult it can be at times is this one:

Seek to understand before being understood.

I just read a story about an administrator who practices this norm.

From Karen S. about a Kindergarten student in trouble in Talking Him Off the Ledge at Talkworthy:

“In a few minutes, he got the idea that I wasn’t there to make his day more miserable but that I was genuinely trying to understand him.”

She described the encounter between herself and the child as magical. I felt the magic as I read her words. Karen is a true leader. Go read the whole story. It’s a story worth listening to, sharing, and believing.

“We are responsible not only for the stories we tell and the stories we listen to, but for the stories we choose to believe.” ~Thomas King

I demand achievement!

Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous – a perfect afternoon for a shopping spree in Montreal, which I hadn’t done in a long while. It’s as if I were a tourist in my own city, since I no longer live in Montreal but lived there for so long.

In the very first store I visited (after stopping in at the Korean grocery on Ste Catherine street for kim bap to eat as I strolled in the sun) I couldn’t help but purchase this bag. I was going to get it even after only seeing this side:


and then I turned it around – priceless! – I ran to the cashier.


I feel like this is all I write about.

Sure, I demand achievement from my students. But they are always reminding me to ‘get a grip’. How do we balance high standards for achievement with getting a grip, with staying real?

When it comes down to it, if I only demanded achievement from my students I wouldn’t get it. Some might try to give it, those ones who are lucky enough to know how to get it through traditional means. But what about those who have other needs that must be met first, before they can even fathom academic achievement?

The teacher on the bag demands achievement – from who? Her students? Herself? Her school? In order for authentic achievement to happen on any level it ideally needs to happen on all of them. We need to listen to each other’s stories, really listen, to develop a relationship with each other that makes us want to achieve together. In that way we can expect achievement, expect success, happiness, accountability, change, love.

Really, I feel like this is all I write about. All I talk about. We can’t expect achievement (academic, social, professional development…) if that is all we demand. Real achievement is collaborative, it is relative, it is caring.

I almost didn’t post this because I feel it is all I write about, that it is the same old story. But then I remembered that there is a reason for stories. The stories we tell and listen to and choose to believe are the ones that tie us together and keep us alive.

So I’ll keep telling this story. I think it’s a good one to tell.