Last week’s post provided me with some interesting feedback about how our attitude impacts change. I had a few interesting conversations this week about how personal the emotions are that drive our attitude, but also how public that attitude is to those around us. These conversations made me think more about how our attitude, and the actions that come from this attitude, impact the person we will ultimately become. I believe the most important thing we bring to our schools, classrooms… lives, as educators is our attitude. Attitude is the key to what others might consider to be the most important aspect of teaching. Attitude leads to building positive relationships, the dedication it takes to build high quality lessons, and the perseverance to stick with tasks when frustrations arise. Attitude is the tipping point to everything we do.
Here is the challenge I see when it comes to talking about attitude. I have never met an educator who will stand up and say: “I am trying to hold my students back; I am trying to make it harder for teachers and students to be successful in today’s world; I am going to drag my feet in times of change; I am going to be the resistance to progress.” Yet, while I have never heard anyone say these things, I have seen people act this way and present this attitude.
What you believe drives your behavior; how you behave tells you what you believe. If you give me long enough to observe your behavior, I will tell you what you believe. While we may try and keep our beliefs and values to ourselves, our behavior is never private. Our behaviors define our beliefs for those around us. We can convince ourselves that our actions are justified, or provide context to our decisions, to explain why we acted a particular way even though it is not who we really are. But, our behaviors do not lie, they define what we value.
This is where the gap lies. Many times, we say our beliefs are one thing and then behave in contradiction to them. We need to ask ourselves if our behaviors align to where we think our beliefs and values stand. And if we find that they do not, then we need to either admit our values are different, or we need to start behaving differently.
It is never a waste of time to evaluate our beliefs. More importantly, it is important to look at our behaviors in our daily actions and see if those align with those beliefs. If we say all students matter in our classroom, we need to make sure we treat every single student with the respect that ideal should elicit. If we say we want to prepare ours students for the future, we need to make sure the tasks we are asking them to complete are aligned to the skills it will take to have that success. This list could go on…
Reiterating what I stated earlier, what you believe drives your behavior, but more importantly how you behave tells others what you believe. Do your beliefs and behavior align?