It's interesting, so often problems arise from a breakdown in communication or possibly a person's tone. Recently I met with a young lady, she came into my office and began to cry. She informed me that her friends don't like her anymore. I listened. I had noticed a change in the girl and I was curious if she had any idea why she was losing friends. As she talked about the year she deflected all responsibility and blamed others for being mean and not spending time with her and not listening to her.
I pondered my response and then I looked at her. I said, "Can I share a story with you?" The young lady fought back the tears and nodded her head yes.
The story began with me as a youngster in church. Growing up I honestly wasn't a huge fan of church. But week in and week out my parents made me go. One thing I looked forward to was the donuts afterwards. I'll admit, getting to eat 2-3 donuts as a ten year old is always enticing. With that as the backdrop I then told her about an unfortunate Sunday morning.
I knew the routine...go to church, grab a donut and sit there while my parents talked for 30 minutes. This happened every week (or so it seemed). On this day church ended and I scurried off to grab a large vanilla topped cinnamon roll! I hopped in line right behind an older couple. I was trying to peer around them and see which one I was going to grab, when suddenly the older lady looked at me and said, "You will wait your turn, young man!"
At this point I looked at the little girl in my office and said, "that's what she said...you'll wait your turn." She looked at me and said, that's it? I then said, "Almost."
It's tough to truly describe this situation, but I must tell you, the lady didn't simply say, wait your turn, she said it in a very mean, snarly way. I can still feel that tone...it was an angry, mean tone that made me feel awful.
The girl in my office was looking down at my carpet. (Personally I don't think my carpet is anything special, but she had her head down looking at the floor.) She then said, "I know what you mean Mr. Gilpin, I've had people talk to me that way." We then talked about her feelings and then I asked her if she ever talked to people she cared about in a mean way. At this point the tears began to well up. I could tell she was beginning to see the point to my story. She said, "Mr. Gilpin, I don't mean to talk that way, it just happens when they don't do what I ask." I then told her that the way she was treating her friends was causing her to lose friends.
Looking her in the eye that afternoon and telling her that she has the power to make it right was a nice way to wrap things up. As she walked out she stopped at the door and told me thanks. I could tell by her tone that she was grateful and that's all I was hoping for.
The point to the story is, It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It! I'm a true believer that your tone says a lot.
As educators we interact and communicate with kids every day. Our tone can turn a kid on or off to a situation. Kids are smart, they can tell if an adult cares. You know how kids can tell?
They hear your tone.
When we think about tone, think of these three things:
1) We're often unaware of what someone is feeling under the surface.
2) Be careful to engage in contentious conversations when you are in a foul mood.
3) Even the nicest of comments won't mean much if you say it with a negative or sarcastic tone.
This Week's Big Questions: As your patience wanes does your tone get more harsh? Are you always aware of the tone you give to kids?
NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:
Monday, October 27th: AM Lockdown drill
Monday, October 27th: 4th grade to IndianBrook Farms
Monday, October 27th: String Team 3:45-4:30
Tuesday, October 28th: Admin Meeting 9am
Tuesday, October 28th: Bible Release
Wednesday, October 29th: Grades 3-5 Morning Assembly
Thursday, October 30th: 2pm Halloween Parade (outdoors unless rain)
Friday, October 31st: No Students, Teacher Professional Development
Articles Worth Reading:
Making that redo/retake policy actually work @justintarte
Closing the Deal @Jeff_Zoul
How Teachers Can Motivate Students @MindShiftKQED
Change your wipers! @GenieneD
Hope with skin on @laughwithchad
I'm tired of hearing 'we are preparing kids for college and the real world...' @justintarte
Literacy O' Lanterns @GustafsonBrad
Plight of the Innovator @Venspired
18 Great Reminders When You're Having a Bad Day @marcandangel
Videos Worth Watching:
CNN Heroes (2 min)
Fergie & Ellen Play Heads-Up (2 min)
#HalloweenFail (2 min)