Overflowing Inboxes

Aug 5, 2018

Have you ever seen a child “go off” in a grocery store?  Tantrums can be quite the entertaining experience.  Of course, I contain myself and refrain from smiling, as not to appear unsympathetic to the child and unfortunate parent who has to deal with the situation.  I really do feel sorry for both parties in the equation, and was able to empathize with them all too well this past week.

Last Monday, I helped kick off the Soar to Success Summit, a five-day online professional development series.  Teachers could watch an hour-ish interview with me (or about 20 other individuals) in preparation for the new school year.  Having never participated in such an event, I didn’t know what to expect.  My segment was featured on the first day, so when I woke up on Monday morning I watched it.  Since we recorded in May, I wanted to refresh my memory of the content.

I checked my emails after viewing the session – and flinched when I saw 179 of them in my inbox at 8:45 AM.  That number quickly roes and remained in the 350 range.  Between individuals asking questions, ordering products, inquiring about staff development and signing up to view my blogs, my inbox was overflowing the entire week.   Don’t get me wrong, I was thankful, but when an inbox overflows, behaviors often get ugly.

I have control issues, and clearly, I felt out of control.  I am very particular about responding to emails, mailing out orders, and returning phone calls in a timely fashion – so, I had to be flexible – and I didn’t like it one bit.  My wife picked up on the tension right away.  “Are you okay?” she asked. “It’s great,” I said,  “really.”  “It might be good stress,” she responded, “but it’s stress, all the same.”  She had a point.  Stress is stress.

This is a point I often times forget.  Just as my emotional inbox overflows, so too do the inboxes of the children with whom I interact – And unfortunately, the younger the child, the smaller the inbox. Not eating breakfast, missing a parent, seeing troubling adult behaviors, feeling unsafe – the list never ends.  I’m thinking that when a child has behavioral difficulties, we need a perspective shift more so than a strategy.  Perhaps we simply need to acknowledge that an inbox has overflowed.

What do I want from others when my inbox overflows?  for individuals to be a bit more patient, understanding and tolerant.  And this week served as a reminder that I need to do a much better job of remembering this lesson when working with my kiddos and their significantly smaller inboxes.

 

PS – The fun ramped back up when (surprise!) the session was re-aired yesterday.  Huge thanks to Lee Anne, Cecile and my family for coming to my rescue and jumping into Amazon-style assembly line mode.  We were able to mail out all items within about 24 hours of the time in which they were ordered.  …And my sincere apologies to the US postal workers who twitched when they saw me and my package-filled crates darkening their doorstep each day.

Beyond Poor Choices

I know I’m stating the obvious, but changing behavior can be difficult.  Want to start off on the right foot when faced with this challenge?  A critical first step in dealing with inappropriate behaviors is determining which are the result of poor...

Generalizing to Extremes

As I lay awake last night staring at the ceiling, it was clear to me that my original idea for this week’s post would have to wait.  Given the incident that occurred at yesterday’s presidential rally, I believe there is a bigger issue to address. I’ve been...

The Concerning Colorful Spectrum of Language

Though actions may speak louder than words, we best not underestimate how language modeling shapes the behavior of the children we are collectively raising.  I guess it’s a hazard of my profession, but I regularly see and hear the world through the eyes and ears of...

Teacher Dads

Dads, today I celebrate you as teachers.  In fact, I believe it is one of your most important roles.  Fathers are always teaching, continually by example, and most of the time without even knowing they are doing so.  In this regard, I have seen some masterful work.  I...

Predictable Routines Needed

“The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” This quote from Mark Twain seems appropriate given the changes occurring in homes as another school year ends. Parents, we’re lucky. Our kids have had nine months of consistency thanks to the hard work of teachers. We...

One Chapter at a Time

Relieved. Happy. Discouraged.  Exhausted. These were some of the adjectives teachers mentioned when asked how they were feeling about the school year ending.  Although the responses varied, all teachers agreed - they were ready to have some closure with their...

Surrogate Teacher Moms

“Do you have any kids?” I once asked a teacher friend. “Absolutely,” she said. “I have a classroom full of them.” I laughed and walked away, but that thought stuck with me. Let’s face it - some of the best mothers in our lives weren’t our mothers, in the biological...

Get Physical

I’ve done a great deal of yard work over the past few weeks and have been reminded of an important behavior strategy. It’s one I don’t talk about nearly enough, given its effectiveness. Of course, with most people’s busy schedule it’s also hard to come by. The...

Look for the Foundation

Did you know that behaviors have a build-up effect over time?  Most teachers do.  And although there is an ebb and flow pattern to the behaviors of students, we see them all at the tail end of the school year – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Fortunately, we have...

Coming Together

So I’ve been thinking about this post all week.  Though the original inspiration hit me in the middle of the eclipse last Monday, it was driven home again yesterday.  (Being a spiritual man, I believe sometimes God circles back around and gives me reminders – to make...