September 16, 2011

Can you empathize with parents and students?

As I write in my forthcoming book, I used to be a "my-way-or-the-highway guy." I made it clear to students that they were to sit in their seats, remain silent, and don't even think of asking to leave the room.

The Results Only Learning Environment changes this. It creates a learning community that empowers students with autonomy and a passion for learning. Since converting to a ROLE, I feel like I look at students differently from how I did in the my-way-or-the-highway days. I believe that I can empathize with students and parents in ways I never did in the past.

A recent parent meeting, though, got me to thinking about my relationship with all students. These caring, insightful parents had me wondering if old ways hadn't crept into my ROLE, especially when I was dealing with their child. "She feels that you single her out," I was told.

Upon careful consideration, I knew they were right. The student felt picked on, maybe even unwanted.

I assured the parents this wasn't the case, but I had to admit that I was guilty of singling the student out by telling her I had different expectations of her, because I know her better than the rest of the class.

The key to this very successful meeting was the empathy I felt for the parents, especially the father, who told me he wanted to know that I cared for his daughter. Not so long ago, I might not have been able to empathize with him, because the my-way-or-the-highway attitude got in the way.

I won't let a lack of empathy with parents and students invade my results-only classroom again.