Etc. Hard Choices
(Inspired by Bloomburg Businessweek Magazine...the very last page of each issue.)
"Think About What You Have To Do, and Do Something You're Thinking About."
Serving my local community as a high school teacher for 4 years, I learned a lot about customer service and the ability to take action. With classes as big as 34 students, it was absolutely necessary for us to work together to make things possible. That's when I realized the power of acknowledgement.
Reading two books in the course of one month changed the way I did everything. It started when I asked a mentor of mine what I could do to maintain more control over the classroom and encourage my students to engage in the information. Luckily, my mentor was able to "talk me down." It wasn't about controlling the students, she taught me, it was about getting them to want to succeed.
I realized I needed to think differently about my own philosophy of teaching and learning.
One book I read, "Don't Shoot the Dog," by Karen Pryor, taught me about the power of reinforcement. Turned out I was reinforcing ANY behavior my students were exhibiting - be it positive (engaging, taking notes, doing well on their exams) or negative (showing up tardy, not doing homework, acting out in class). As I learned from behavioral psychology, when people are reinforced, they will be more likely to repeat the behavior.
I continued learning from reading "The One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard. Here, I practiced setting goals, acknowledging people's progress and giving tough, course-corrective feedback. One of the mantras I took, after working with a group of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory years ago is: Think about what you have to do, and do something you're thinking about.