Over the past couple of months, I have been stepping out more to do speaking engagements. While I’ve been at these speaking engagements, I have taken those opportunities to also talk about my I See ABILITY!™ book. I have cherished the kind, generous feedback and positive comments people have sent my way after reading my book and or seeing me speak at a training.
I have also gotten some unkind comments from the “who do you think you are?” realm. This one individual seemed to think I was tooting my horn about my book too much. The funny thing to note is I hadn’t been marketing my book at this point when I received this comment. I cannot deny this person’s words did hurt me, however, I also think about what persuaded this person to give me such a comment. Maybe they were going through a difficult time? Or, they could possibly have seen my success as a mirror to their “failure”. I put “failure” in parenthesis because I don’t see failure as negative. I also try my best not to compare my life journey with others and encourage others to steer away from these debilitating thoughts.
I could sit here all day contemplating what could be going on with this person personally, and how those personal experiences forced them to send me such hurtful words or I could realize it’s a natural tendency to project our own personal obstacles on others. The bigger question is is this clouded judgment actually disruptive to how we communicate and understand one another?
I have seen this play out multiple times in a classroom, where a teacher is trying to constructively help a child complete a task, but after a couple minutes of struggle, the teacher steps in and completes the task for the student. Another example I have seen in classrooms is with simple child development moments. For instance, it can be difficult for a child to hold a pencil before they even begin to write. Many parents will get hung up on the fact their child isn’t doing the tripod grasp, however, that stress can cause the child to turn in and not want to learn how to hold the pencil at all, and I would argue the bigger accomplishment here is getting the child to hold the pencil first, then moving on to perfecting the tripod grasp. It’s so easy to point our finger at other’s limitations. We are trained to “evaluate” those limitations. I wonder if that need to make someone “perfect” or “typical” is a reflection of the desire to fix things in ourselves and hide our own “deficits”. So next time you’re evaluating, assessing and/or grading, step back and be conscious of what’s going on inside of you and try your best not to let your personal challenges and/or lessons get in the way of helping your students progress, allowing them plenty of space to be real people and make mistakes. I have found the less I give into my own wants and desires for a child and the more I give into their learning process, the more enjoyable I find my experiences as an OT to be, the same goes for the students I work with. Try this process of accessing your personal issues before you enter the classroom setting, then actively leaving those difficulties at the door. Let me know what changes you see in your students and the atmosphere of your classroom. Bio