We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

May 5, 2019

Have you ever heard your voice on a recording and been surprised?  “Do I really sound like that?”  It is safe to say the way we see ourselves is rarely how others see us.  We all have a blind spot – and I first learned that lesson in graduate school. 

As part of a class assignment I was videoed while being interviewed.  Afterwards I had to watch the recording and write a paper on what I learned.  What did I learn?  Three lessons…  I talked too much.  I talked with my hands.  I cut people off when they were talking.  I thought, “surely I don’t do those things all the time.  Do I?”  Of course, these self-revelations were not a surprise to friends and family, but to me, shocking. 

When confronted with our own behaviors, it is easy to get defensive.  My teacher told me, “Dan, you don’t know what you don’t know – and if you don’t know something about yourself, you can’t change it.  This is why we have to listen to others when they give us feedback.”  Simple words, but for me, life-altering.

Teachers, as we move toward the end of school, now is a time for evaluation.  Look for feedback and learn from it.  Student and parent surveys can be very telling, but so too, can just the simple practice of listening to others and reflecting.  As I tell the students, “celebrate your gifts and confront your challenges.”  Here’s hoping we all have a great final month of school. 

PS – If this topic interests you, look up the Johari Window.  Since I’m a human behavior geek, I love the concept. 

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...

Positive Collective Memories

As we move into the final months of the school year, now is a great time for educators to celebrate successes.  However, the problem with trying to do so is that we don’t always see the results of our labor right away.  Oftentimes our efforts are laying a foundation...