Their feelings matter

I went into this position as a school leader thinking so much about what tasks have to get done and the programmatic changes that would need to be made. But as I reflect and gain experience (of course the best teacher) I realize that in most ways I had it all wrong.

People’s feelings matter. 

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

I never thought of myself as a feelings guy. In fact playing ball and being “tough” pushes you down a certain road of becoming hard and at times rough (just ask my wife, I’m sure she’ll tell you!). But in the end with leadership, little matters as much as if others are willing to work with you, for you, and for your common goals.

If you are not considering your teachers’ feelings, you don’t really care if they learn or grow. 

People remember information that is important to them, that connects in some way to their lives and previous experiences, and that is meaningful to them. Learning occurs when people feel the information or skills matter. For teachers, they learn if they feel it matters to their instruction and their students.

I have to reflect and keep myself in constant check on this. Am I pushing to get things accomplished or am I pushing to help others grow? If it’s growth, then they have to WANT to grow. That’s an emotional thing. That taps into their why, their beliefs, and comes from a positive relationship.

Our students’ feelings REALLY matter. 

You could rewrite Maya Angelou’s quote as follows:

Students will forget what you said, students will forget what you did, but students will never forget how you made them feel.

If you think back to the teachers and administrators that really made a difference in your lives and gave you the lasting inspiration, can you remember the details or do you just remember a feeling they gave you?

I remember…an elementary school librarian who always welcomed me and made me feel special, made me feel like it was the safest place in the world.

I remember…a middle school teacher who preached, “Character is who you are when no one is watching.” She helped me learn integrity, but I don’t remember what ‘subject’ she taught.

I remember…an English teacher who would talk about pro-wrestling with us to connect and make sure we knew she cared about our interests.

I remember…high school civics teacher who went out of his way to tell me he had my back when there were personal things going on at that time.

I remember…a college professor who acknowledged and praised my unique abilities (being a guy in elementary education is unique as it is) and helped me believe in myself.

I remember…my first principal who gave me the push and confidence to consider educational leadership. I still have a poster from his principal’s office in my principal’s office now. I reflect on it every day.

Slow Down

Don’t be in too much of a rush. Don’t be in too much of a push to cover everything and ‘get-r-done.’ Take the time to connect to your students, make them feel safe and special. Your lasting impression in their lives will not be from getting every single task in each lesson complete. It will be from the personal interactions that you have with them on a daily basis.

How many times have you actually stopped thinking about everything else and just talked with a student? I mean really talked with them. And listened. Listened like you really cared about every detail they were saying.

Thank you for reflecting with me. If you see me, please remind me. We still have to accomplish a lot and work really, really hard for our students. But we can’t forget that our teachers’ and our students’ feelings really matter.

Like Nike, “Just Do it.”

There is never enough time.

There is always so much to do.

We have to make the time.

Their feelings matter. 

Click to Tweet the Takeaway: “How you make teachers & students feel today matters more than any task on your to do list.”
Tweet: How you make teachers & students feel today matters more than any task on your to do list.
I wrote this immediately after we finished up another great #pwcsedchat on Twitter. Thank you for those in the chat tonight for your inspiration!

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Posted in Leadership Lessons