The Human Side of Things

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” ~ Emily Post

I can’t believe I did it again! When will I ever learn?

I keep reflecting on my experience at a conference I went to this past weekend. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow as an educator. I can’t even begin to say how valuable it is to encourage growth among your faculty, to support, acknowledge and value their input and ideas. I learned so much about tech, new sites and apps to use with my talented 3rd graders. But, I also learned an important lesson myself; being more aware and sensitive to those around us.

I was just as excited to learn about the latest tech as I was to meet the keynote speaker. I felt such a connection to his book, and I was hopeful to pick his brain a bit. I was eager to understand how best to bring his ideas to my students who have such a difficulty time with growth mindset and taking risks. Gifted and Talented students are quite challenged by this. As a child, I always dabbled and tinkered with things. I remember one time my mom was throwing out our toaster oven. It wasn’t working right and it was time for it to go. I remember taking it out of the trash (eww, gross, I know!) and taking a screw driver to it. I pulled apart every inch of that toaster oven because I was curious as to how it worked. I wasn’t looking to fix it, or recreate with those parts, I just wanted to explore. Another time, my brother and I took apart an old can opener and tried to make a garage door opener with that and an old bike chain! We were so curious! I miss those days. His book helped me to see the importance of continuing  on and encouraging my students to take a leap forward into the unknown.

As I was walking through the foyer of the hotel, I spotted him. He was about to check in. I welcomed him and was hopeful to have a moment to chat with him during the conference. Unfortunately, with the various sessions, late night client dinners and catching up with former colleagues, I realized it was going to be more difficult than I thought. Difficulty not only with my schedule, but also because of the plethora of educators waiting to speak with him throughout the day. Each time I spotted him, there must have been 10-20 people surrounding him. Seeing this, I really felt bad that I asked him to meet for a cup of coffee. I understand that it must be the “nature of the beast” as an author promoting his book. Authors must speak and reach as many educators, administrators…people as possible. But, I see the flip side too.

It must be very difficult to not have a moment of downtime. A moment to catch your breath, to enjoy a cup of coffee, without always initiating conversation, answering questions, having someone pick your brain, and helping someone create a Twitter account (don’t judge!). I saw him being pushed and pulled, poked and prodded in so many directions, one person right after another. An image of a bunch of young girls fighting over a rag doll comes to mind. Gosh, I couldn’t imagine having to do that week after week. I feel ashamed that I too, had tried to have a moment. I should have been more respectful of the boundaries between an author and fan.

Remembering the human side of things, was my lesson. Putting myself in his shoes, gave me a glimpse, an understanding of what he deals with (probably) on a daily basis. It made me realize that, very few individuals put the needs and demands of others before their own needs. He was so gracious to do that, and in return, we should not have taken advantage.  As I look back , I feel that I should have been more compassionate and respectful of his time and schedule. Funny, such simple rules of etiquette! Good ol’ fashioned manners that could make someone’s day so much easier. I guess, we’re all human! Maybe, we should treat each other as such.


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